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Softening The Wine


G. WeilerNorth — Vancouver, British Columbia asks,

I am planning to try a new product on some older cabernet wine (2015 vintage) that has not yet been bottled. It has a harshness that might be related to tannins. It starts out okay for the mouthfeel, but the finish is harsh on the tip of the tongue.

My question is with the use of gum arabic where I’m using a liquid product called Maxigum. The supplier provided recommendations for the dosage — approximately 1 mL per liter. The suggestion was to add this prior to bottling but nothing about how long it takes to be effective. I tried some small samples with it and there wasn’t much of a change right after. The other issue is integrating this rather viscous solution into the wine in a 6-gallon (23-L) carboy. It would seem that this additive would have to be thoroughly stirred. I would appreciate your thoughts on this product.

Before I launch into my information about gum arabic and related products, do take a minute to think that gum arabic may not give you the result you’re looking for. Gum arabic can smooth out the perception of tannins in some wines, but I’ve found that sometimes it can make the problem seem worse. If gum arabic doesn’t solve your problem, you may want to consider protein fining, which will remove tannins, not just mask them. Proteins have been used in winemaking since time immemorial. Egg whites, milk, animal gelatin, and yes, even the infamous bull’s blood, have been used in winemaking for centuries (though no one uses blood anymore as far as I know). The protein molecules adhere to excess tannin in the wines and then fall to the bottom of the container as sediment, essentially sweeping the tannins from the wine. The wine is then racked off the sediment and hey presto, the resulting wine is clarified and carries less of a tannin burden. When done right, the wine is softer, rounder and more approachable. I find that
Response by Alison Crowe.