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Downside of pectic enzymes leading to faster declining wines?

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Rob S

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I've just came across a couple of article stating that wines can sometimes decline faster after using pectic enzymes:

1) 'Using Pectic Enzymes to Make Wine' found at: Using Pectic Enzymes to Make Wine
and
2) 'Use of Pectic Enzymes in Winemaking' found at: Use of Pectic Enzymes in Winemaking | Page 1 of 1

These articles say "an unfortunate side effect of using pectic enzymes is that they can speed up the maturation of finished wines. Care must be taken when bulk aging the wine to make sure that it doesn’t over mature before it is bottled. This can lead to flat wines that come across as being past their prime."

and ''Maturity is usually faster with enzyme treated wines. Sometimes such wines decline faster than untreated wines."

I've for years used such products as Color X, Color Pro, Pectinase, Lafzyme Arome, and others. I'm a bit concerned as I age some of my wines for up to 5 years before drinking them, and on average drink them between 2-3 years. I am now wondering if they might have starting to go downhill quicker due to using pectic enzymes.

And are using enzymes worth it, and do they make such a big difference, so could the benefits not be that noticeable in the first place?

Any thoughts on this would be really helpful.

Thanks,
Rob
 

cmason1957

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My guess, is you can find articles that point to the exact opposite effect when using Pectic enzymes. I tend to take articles such as both of these with at least a bit of salt and remember, they are the opinions of the person writing the article. The guy originally behind Winemakers Academy is no actively making wine, so take anything there as somewhat suspect.

The PiWine article also listed several good things behind the use of pectic enzymes (filter better, less foaming, better color to name a few). They also point out that adding bentonite can help with the faster aging problem. If you are happy with your 5 year aged wines and use pectic enzymes, I don't think I would change based on these articles. Mine tend to be consumed at the 2-4 year marks so I don't see any reason I would change.
 

Rob S

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Would be interesting to do experiments where identically made batches with the enzymes and without and see how wines might compare and how age worthy they would be. Would be lots of work, but would give an idea on whether they make a noticeable difference in terms of positives or negatives. I think I agree with your opinion. I don't particularly like the thought of adding the extra step of using bentonite on account of using enzymes given that my wines have always cleared really well without using bentonite. And if it were true what the articles say, as well as it not likely to impact the wines over say 2-5 years then that would not be a concern and the benefits would outweigh any possible downside. Would have been helpful if the articles had mentioned anything about how much time they would be talking about.
 

winemanden

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Whoever wrote the articles weren't tasting or testing your wines. If your wine tastes good to you, stick with the methods you know, or make two identical wines by both methods and see for yourself which way is best. Until then, carry on enjoying your wines in your own time.
Some of my wines don't last 2-3 years. Nothing to do with enzymes or ageing. I think it's the glass fairy at work.😇😷
 

winemaker81

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@Rob S, thanks for posting this -- it's an interesting topic of conversation.

When reading comments like the 2 posted above, my first question is, "how much?". In this case, how much quicker does a wine mature and how much quicker does a wine decline? "Faster" doesn't tell me anything useful. If the answer is "the wine starts to decline 5% sooner", well for a wine I expect to start declining at 10 years, that a 6 month loss. For a wine I expect to decline at 3 years, it's a 2 month loss. Not all that important to me, as pectic enzyme has a lot of good points.

If the decline is 50% faster? Ok, that's a problem.

My second question is, "Sez who?", e.g., who posted the study, what method did they use, if it's a professional article has it been peer reviewed, etc. Neither article lists a source, so we have no idea.

Thanks to "search", I found the abstract for an article published in 1951 that may be the source for both: The Effect of Pectic Enzymes in Wine Making | American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (ajevonline.org). Unfortunately, the site wants $10 USD to see the entire article.

Most of the points in the abstract are positive with regard to the use of pectic enzyme. However, I found point #5 to be interesting as it's the source of controversy. I read it several times to ensure I understand what it means:

5. Enzyme-treated wines have invariably matured more rapidly than the untreated. The wine maker must be careful not to let the treated wines overmature before bottling. In one winery experiment of the 1950 season the enzyme-treated wine is now inferior to the untreated in flavor and bouquet. In other cases there is little dlfference, or the enzyme treated is superior.

My comments:

Enzyme-treated wines have invariably matured more rapidly than the untreated. I need to see the actual results, as per my comment above, e.g., what does "rapidly" mean?

The wine maker must be careful not to let the treated wines overmature before bottling. This is really vague; again, I need to see the actual results.

In one winery experiment of the 1950 season the enzyme-treated wine is now inferior to the untreated in flavor and bouquet. Ok ... one winery reported an adverse result, which is attributed to pectic enzyme. However, that attribution may (or may not) be accurate. Also, what is the overall sample size? If ten wineries made ten wines each, one batch turning out inferior is not significant.

In other cases there is little dlfference, or the enzyme treated is superior. Ok, again, how many times was the wine superior? If the sample size is 100 batches, 1 is inferior, 9 are superior, and 90 are unchanged? I'll use pectic enzyme as the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

The article is 70 years old -- I'd love to see a new study on the subject, as I expect modern pectic enzyme is different from that in 1950. Does that make a difference?
 

Rob S

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Hi Bryan,

Thanks for your comments! You make some really interesting comments. I've asked the source of one of the Rticles article the following:

"I'm wondering given that I did not know about this recommendation to use bentonite after my red wines finished fermenting, any chance my wines could have begun to become more flat or past their prime over the time I mostly was drinking them such as 2-3 years? So what would be the general timeline you are talking about? On some occasions I've waited up to 5 years to drink them. Would be very grateful to know if the decline is very gradual, then can this be of little concern in the first place?

The answer I got back is: "Due to the vast chemistry that is happening in your wine, it's always good to try it periodically to see if it's peaking".

Not only is this answer too vague, it seems to come across as the person not understanding where I'm coming from. I guess it could mean the chemistry of different wines will have different outcomes . But still, on average they should be able to provide some scientific evidence to back up what they are saying, if it is the general case that there will be some decline and who know how long it would take. Yes if it's long term then it's a no brainer.

Also where one article says "careful not to let the treated wines overmature before bottling" does not seem to mean anything to me since whether one lets it mature in a carboy, barrel, or in bottles, if there will be interaction with the enzymes, it should not make a difference in one way or another.
 

winemaker81

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@Rob S, IMO you got the best answer they could give you.

I supposed professional wine tasters can tell if a wine has peaked, but IMO most of us will know it only when the wine starts declining. The best idea I have is to taste a wine regularly and keep notes. From this we can determine when the wine has plateaued, and we'll note it when it starts to decline.

Unless someone wants to spring for $10 to get the detailed report, I'm inclined to ignore it. The many benefits of pectic enzyme are listed, and the supposed drawbacks are so vaguely described that I discount them.

That said, someone might make a project of contacting all the enzyme manufacturers, referencing the report I mentioned, and asking about research regarding the effects of their products on wine aging.
 

CDrew

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To me, It almost doesn't matter even if the premise is true, which I doubt. Most if not all commercial wineries use enzymes, so there's that.

But the benefits in color and flavor extraction are undeniable for the home wine maker, and most home wine makers are not making wine to save for 20 years. I suspect I'm like a lot of you and want to start drinking the wine at about 2 years old. If it makes it to 5 years, I'll be surprised!
 

Rob S

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Happy New year everyone! Looking forward to 2021.
Thanks to Bryan's suggestion I took the next steps to contact both Scott Labs and Lallemand. I've already received an answer from Lallemand and once I get an answer from Scott Labs I will update this thread. Scott's said they will do some research in regards to this and I will consult with their staff scientist for a more specific answer about enzymes.

So here's the first reply:
You are posing a question that can be principally answered in practice rather than through research due to winemaking and the different logistical nature of the craft. Enzyme use alone will not determine ageability—and of course the choice of products and practices will more readily influence the outcome.

The AJEV article you mention is dated 1951—and the enzyme products today have undergone different testing and processing than those generic pectinases produced earlier. I have attached a Lallemand Lallzyme catalogue which outlines the activity within the different enzyme products listed. The second reference you mention starts with an erroneous comment for the source of enzymes. Aspergillus niger is fungal, not bacterial which may be a minor detail, but an observation for accuracy.

I have been working with wineries for a long time and using an example of Pinot noir production, know that you can elicit more tannic structure through the use of Lallzyme EXV for enhanced aging potential or you can use Lallzyme EX for enhanced smoothness and textural contribution. Both are macerating enzymes but the impact can be different. Of course these are applied directly to grapes at harvest for maximum impact.

The type of enzyme used will influence the sensory impact, unlike the original study you mention. In terms of bentonite addition, again the specific enzyme used and the timing should dictate whether or not you need to add it. With macerating enzymes, it should be unnecessary to use bentonite as they will be inactivated during fermentation. In the case of a white wine where you are trying to uncover more aromatic and flavor intensity, it is prudent to make a bentonite addition to inactivate the reaction to avoid over-reaction.

I know that I haven’t addressed scientific papers directly, but a google search indicates that much research is being done on the application of enzymatic activity—whether directly from selected yeast or from enological enzyme additions.

Thank you for your inquiry. If you have a specific question, don’t hesitate to ask.
Best regards,
Shirley

Shirley Molinari
Lallemand Oenology
www.Lallemandwine.com
 

winemaker81

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Wow! That's a great reply from Lallemand -- her attention to detail indicate it's not a stock reply. Her comments make sense -- products are completely changed in the 70 years since the paper was published.

Without seeing the original paper, I wasn't going to make a negative statement, but in light of the Lallemand reply, I admit skepticism regarding the validity of a paper that old with regard to commercial products that have certainly changed.
 

Rob S

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As promised below you will find the Scott Labs reply on my enzymes question. So to resume, enzymes have come a long way in improvements since the publishing of that article 70 years ago. This is further reassurance our wines will not diminish as a result and will undergo several benefits as well. We can also opt to use bentonite to stop the process if we wish.
As an extra, I've received a reply from Laffort on a specific enzyme question, the Lafazym Arom. I've been adding this to my white wines post fermentation with great results, but have not used bentonite in the past and found wines were great just the same. The instructions say that bentonite "can" be used to stop the process, so I wanted to know if this step is mandatory or optional. Laffort replied by saying "The enzyme will continue to react as long as there is substrate to work on, meaning it will continue to release aroma compounds from sugar compounds. If you have had success in the past without using bentonite, then continue your practice. It is an option to stop the enzymatic reaction if you reach a desired aroma profile. Honestly, many customers are adding the enzyme and not worrying about it’s continued action".

So here's the reply from Scott Labs, Darren Michaels, Fermentation Outside Technical Expert - Lyle, WA:

"Pectic enzymes are a class of enzymes where the primary substrate is pectin and it’s breakdown products. It’s an extremely generic classification that encompasses a huge range of activities that can be sourced from a range of microbes but for the wine industry they are primarily limited to Aspergillus niger as it is required to be a naturally-occurring product.

As a result, when enzymes for the wine industry were first utilized (like in the paper cited from 1951) they were not purified for grape wine outcomes and the range of activities were borrowed from the fruit processing industry- which have much shorter shelf-lives and a whole different set of goals. And unfortunately as a enzyme technical manager, I run into that occasionally every now and then- enzymes that should have stayed in the fruit industry but were marketed for wine and they aren’t appropriate for the applications they’ve been marketed towards.

Over time as purification steps were modified, mold species were optimized, broth nutrients were specified, both the nature of enzymes and their specific concentrations were changed to adapt to wine-specific product goals. That’s taken a good 40 years but we are finally at a point that all of our proprietary manufacturers produce products that are outcome-specific- if the enzyme is meant for early-release reds it will specify in the technical summary (ie Lallzyme EX). That doesn’t mean that EVERY enzyme currently available out in the market is appropriate for ageable wine (we don’t know every enzymes sourcing) but we can safely say that OURS is when specified (ie Lallzyme EX-V).

That being said the only enzymes that I’m careful of using is glycosidase enzymes-post alcoholic fermentation- they are a class of anthocyanase and can speed up the hydrolysis of compounds in wine that naturally occur in the lower pH environment of wine- but as with all enzymes you can arrest that action with bentonite and it will stop that process".

So enjoy your wines and enzymes!
Cheers,
Rob

 

Scooter68

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This is a perfect example of how researching ANY topic must include a very careful eye with regards to:
1)The Source and their possible personal Predisposition towards the conclusion in the "Study" especially if that study was paid for by a "Special Interest Group"
2) The AGE of the study - Obviously at first glance neither of these articles referenced or indicated the date of 1951.
3) The sources background and training in the field of the study.

Just as you have to exercise caution with any YouTube DIY video or review of a product or directions for a process, like "Quick Low cost Home-made wine" (Actually I just made that title up.)

One last point - How many different "Reports" and/or "Studies" have you seen in the last 20 years telling us Wine is good for us, or Wine is bad for us? m I mean really, - You can die from drinking too much water if you are crazy enough. ( Water Intoxication: Man, 35, Dies After Drinking Too Much Water )
 

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