Ask Wine Wizard

What is your opinion of enzymes added to wine to improve color, mouthfeel, and flavor?


Mike Gareau — Fruitvale, British Columbia asks,

Lallzyme EX is a specially-formulated enzyme that supposedly yields improved color intensity, greater mouthfeel and enhanced fruity, floral and spicy flavors in red wine. Have you ever heard of this? If you have, does it do what it says or is the advertising just a marketing ploy?


Lallzyme EX is a blend of enzymes that helps break down the plant cells in grapes. This mix of pectinase, cellulase and hemicellulase is introduced at the crusher or right at the outset of fermentation and is most often used for red winemaking. According to the company, this enzyme cocktail aids in the release of tannins, anthocyanins and certain other aromatic compounds during fermentation. Their in-house studies showed an almost 10 percent increase in color intensity in Sangiovese, as well as a 10 percent increase in anthocyanin release, when compared to non-treated control wines. They also claim that the enzyme aids in the release of less-astringent tannins and limits the extraction of “C6 compounds,” a class of compounds of which certain kinds can be responsible for herbaceous character in wine. Adding to the positive press, a formal study presented at the 1999 Joint Burgundy-California-Oregon Winemaking Symposium at UC Davis concluded that Pinot Noir treated with Lallzyme EX exhibited more color on the purple-blue scale — in other words, color that was more intense. It also showed more body and a more spicy, floral and fruity character.

Grape varietals that might particularly benefit from this enzyme are those that often have problems with color stability and extraction: Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. If you have the inclination, you might want to conduct side-by-side fermentation experiments in your cellar. Treat two batches identically except for dosing one with Lallzyme EX. The results should indicate what the enzyme does to your favorite style of wine.

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Response by Alison Crowe.