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Using Pectic Enzymes In A Red Wine

TroubleShooting

Robert St-Jean — Cantley, Quebec asks,
Q

I’ve just read that using pectic enzyme can result in faster maturity in some wines and that sometimes such wines decline faster than untreated wines. Should I avoid using it or not worry about using it if I am to drink my wines within 1–3 years? On average how much time can it take for such wines to start declining and for someone to start noticing? I’ve always used it for my red wines. if I stop am I likely to come across haze issues?

A
To quote one of my vineyard colleagues who always likes to give multiple sides to every answer, “It depends” (thanks, Rich). And so it is with pectic enzymes in winemaking. Pectic enzymes are proteins that can be added to wines at different stages to achieve many different results: To increase juice yields at the press, to help color extraction, and to result in better settling. In the case of fruit or country wines, pectic enzymes are a necessary ingredient in your winemaking arsenal as it’s almost impossible to get clear, bright, and settled fruit wines without using them. Since you mentioned red wines above, I’m assuming that you’re using wine grapes and not high-pectin fruit like black currants or raspberries. If you’re making all-grape wine the choice to use pectic enzymes or not will depend on your starting material and on your experience with these particular grapes, if you’ve used them more than once. Pectic enzymes, unlike say, sulfur dioxide or oak barrels or chips, are quite low on my list of “necessary” winemaking ingredients for traditional red winemaking. When
Response by Alison Crowe.