Ask Wine Wizard

Pectic Enzymes and Sulfite


John Petzold — Sun Prairie, Wisconsin asks,

I’ve started a batch of cranberry wine and added the pectic enzyme at the same time as the crushed Campden tablets — I was in a hurry! I was supposed to wait 12 hours after the campden tabs were added. Will that make a difference? Should I re-add the pectic enzyme?


Here’s a simple rule of thumb to keep handy when using any kind of enzyme in winemaking. Enzymes are proteins and proteins don’t mix well with bentonite or with sulfur dioxide. Always wait at least 12 hours, like your package directions dictate, between using sulfur dioxide and one of the other two products. In your particular situation, I would say that you could re-add some of the pectic enzyme, say, a half dose or so. All you’re doing is settling out pectins anyway and it should not harm the juice.

Just so you’re aware, enzymatic activity can also be inhibited by high alcohol, low temperatures as well as high temperatures. Always try to avoid these situations but if you can’t, it’s generally alright to use a little more enzyme than you normally would to account for it. Commercial winemakers, of course, must pay attention to legal limits for certain additives and home winemakers, just to be “street legal,” might want to be instructed by these rules as well. Good luck and don’t rush next time!

Response by Alison Crowe.