Using egg whites to soften harsh tannins, or not

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jesseb

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My cabernet sauvignon is aging since last fall, about nine months now. I must say, not really pleased with the results so far. The taste is still very harsh, it makes your tongue and gums go dry. Is it possible it’s over extracted? It has been on skins a long time, cold soaking for three/four days and an AF on the skins of about two weeks.

So, I want to do a test and try to soften the wine a bit using egg whites. In the book Modern Home Winemaking by Daniel Pambianchi it says they use about 1-5 egg whites for a whole barrel. My batch is 15L or 4 gallons, so the amount would be significantly less. Besides I would like to do a test before adding it to the whole batch. Considering the total batch size, these tests would preferably very small, so the amount of egg white would even be smaller. I could let it age a bit more before making such adjustments, but I would like to use the space and equipment for next batch and have it bottled by September.

This year I’m planning to go for different varieties, merlot and cabernet franc. These should be less tannic and earlier drinkers, so one approach could be to keep the cab-sauv and blend it afterwards. This would really test my patience, I prefer to have something to sample over the upcoming months. Perhaps egg-white treat and bottle about 1/3 of the batch, and keep 2/3 for blending. Amounts depending on the results of the egg white treatment.

What I’m trying to achieve posting this question is a bit of guidance. How would you continue? The wine is still on the young side (nine months), should I let it age more? Perhaps look for a different fining agent? How can I accurately preform bench trials using egg whites?

Thanks for your time,
Jesse
 

E.E.B.

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I would give the wine another racking to see if the aeration makes some changes in the tannin status, actually it should. after racking, add some 15-20 ppm of so2 to protect the wine from over oxidation. basically, oak barrel or other porous containers such as Flextank would be the best idea because they soften the tannins with micro-oxydation, but they are less accesable for small batches. so aeration by racking is the only way.

About egg white, please refer to the AWRI page on fining agent where thy explain in detail how to make a solution of egg white and how to perform bench trials with that.

They write medium size egg white equals 30 mg, so 1-5 eggs for 225 liter barrel is about 130-660 mg/L.
I would use table salt which is sodium chloride Instead of the potassium chloride thy say to add to ease the dissolving of the protein in the water.
 

jesseb

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I would give the wine another racking to see if the aeration makes some changes in the tannin status, actually it should. after racking, add some 15-20 ppm of so2 to protect the wine from over oxidation. basically, oak barrel or other porous containers such as Flextank would be the best idea because they soften the tannins with micro-oxydation, but they are less accesable for small batches. so aeration by racking is the only way.

About egg white, please refer to the AWRI page on fining agent where thy explain in detail how to make a solution of egg white and how to perform bench trials with that.

They write medium size egg white equals 30 mg, so 1-5 eggs for 225 liter barrel is about 130-660 mg/L.
I would use table salt which is sodium chloride Instead of the potassium chloride thy say to add to ease the dissolving of the protein in the water.
That's a usefull article! Clear explenations.

About racking, how much impact does it have, and how much time does it take to notice effects? As mentioned in the first post, I’m thinking about splitting the batch for bottling and blending. I could rack 2/3 to a smaller vessel for later blending (and let oxygen do it’s work), and what’s left after egg white trials treat accordingly and bottle.
 

ibglowin

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If this post is in the correct sub forum and this is a wine made from fresh grapes and not a wine kit of sorts then your best bet here would be to sit tight and let nature take its course. A 9 mo old wine made from fresh grapes will taste like bitter twigs and seeds at this point. Wine takes time to come around and get good. Usually 18mo to 2 years on a big red like this. Just relax and give it time to come around. It's just a baby in a bottle at the moment.

My cabernet sauvignon is aging since last fall, about nine months now. I must say, not really pleased with the results so far. The taste is still very harsh, it makes your tongue and gums go dry. Is it possible it’s over extracted? It has been on skins a long time, cold soaking for three/four days and an AF on the skins of about two weeks.

So, I want to do a test and try to soften the wine a bit using egg whites. In the book Modern Home Winemaking by Daniel Pambianchi it says they use about 1-5 egg whites for a whole barrel. My batch is 15L or 4 gallons, so the amount would be significantly less. Besides I would like to do a test before adding it to the whole batch. Considering the total batch size, these tests would preferably very small, so the amount of egg white would even be smaller. I could let it age a bit more before making such adjustments, but I would like to use the space and equipment for next batch and have it bottled by September.

This year I’m planning to go for different varieties, merlot and cabernet franc. These should be less tannic and earlier drinkers, so one approach could be to keep the cab-sauv and blend it afterwards. This would really test my patience, I prefer to have something to sample over the upcoming months. Perhaps egg-white treat and bottle about 1/3 of the batch, and keep 2/3 for blending. Amounts depending on the results of the egg white treatment.

What I’m trying to achieve posting this question is a bit of guidance. How would you continue? The wine is still on the young side (nine months), should I let it age more? Perhaps look for a different fining agent? How can I accurately preform bench trials using egg whites?

Thanks for your time,
Jesse
 
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Jovimaple

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If it were me, I would use time instead of messing with it (beyond maybe a racking with a dose of kmeta). Wines with lots of skin contact may take a year or more aging to smooth out. Many folks don't bottle until they need the equipment for the next year's grape harvest, so you're still short about 3 months from that. Wineries will age their heavy reds for years before releasing them for sale.

If you do decide to try treating it with egg whites or whatever, I definitely would recommend splitting the batch to leave some to age naturally, to see if it eventually gets it where you want it to be without any treatment.
 

crushday

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My cabernet sauvignon is aging since last fall, about nine months now. I must say, not really pleased with the results so far. The taste is still very harsh, it makes your tongue and gums go dry. Is it possible it’s over extracted? It has been on skins a long time, cold soaking for three/four days and an AF on the skins of about two weeks.
Honestly, Jesse, you should let time be your friend. If it were my wine, I wouldn't do anything accept make sure FSO2 is in good order and bottle next early summer - at the earliest - fall by the latest.

In 2021 I had a Petite Sirah that was a TANNIC MONSTER! A true alum cocktail!!! I bulk aged it and bottled like I'm suggesting to you. Once bottled, very three months I pulled one to taste and kept notes. Over the last year+ that wine has gotten smoother and smoother. Last weekend, I took a MASSIVE risk and served the wine at an event with 11 other people - everyone there, including me, loved the wine. It was a big hit.

To reiterate, time is your friend. And, the tannic structure is going to be your best friend in the future. Your wine will develop in ways a less tannic wine can't. With this change in perspective, your disappointment is replaced with excitement and becomes an exercise in patience.

Send me a bottle!
 
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E.E.B.

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That's a usefull article! Clear explenations.

About racking, how much impact does it have, and how much time does it take to notice effects? As mentioned in the first post, I’m thinking about splitting the batch for bottling and blending. I could rack 2/3 to a smaller vessel for later blending (and let oxygen do it’s work), and what’s left after egg white trials treat accordingly and bottle.
I would taste the wine just a few weeks after racking to see the change. I absolutely agree with the other folks here - let time and nature do them best, 9 month is still somewhat little for "big" red wines.

Another thing to keep in mind is that acidity and astringency (tannin) can be somewhat contusing because they are enhancing each other as acidity increase the perception of astringency and vice versa. so make sure your wine is not too acidic (high TA, pH has no impact on acidity taste), if it is, consider lowering the acidity neutrally (cold stabilization) or chemically (such as with potassium carbonate) so the wine will taste less both acidic and tannic.
 
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winemanden

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Just a thought. You could use Gelatine, but bench test first. As for racking, pour a glass full from one glass to another a couple of times, you'll soon see the reason.
 

winechef

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I prefer bentonite. vegetarian vegan friendly is definitely something to consider nowadays.

if the tannins are too strong, bentonite and cold chilling the wine then racking will help. but then will need to age longer and add more tannins but control them better next time.
 

E.E.B.

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I prefer bentonite. vegetarian vegan friendly is definitely something to consider nowadays.

if the tannins are too strong, bentonite and cold chilling the wine then racking will help. but then will need to age longer and add more tannins but control them better next time.
Bentonite has nothing to do with tannin finning, it actually negative-charged the same as tannin is. so it can fine positive charged protein but not tannin.
 

jesseb

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Alright, the general consensus seems to simply have more patience and let it age, not go the fining path now. My plan forward is to rack it, and let it sit at least till the next batch comes around in the fall. Then I will evaluate it again and perhaps fine/bottle some part of it and keep some for blending with this year’s grapes. By the time this year’s batch is matured (planning to make some lighter varieties, so maturing until let’s say spring/summer 2024? That’s about 7-9 months) the cab has been aging 18+ months.

Thanks y’all.
 

E.E.B.

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BTW, where do get the grapes from? they are from Holland or from somewhere ells in Europe?
 

jesseb

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BTW, where do get the grapes from? they are from Holland or from somewhere ells in Europe?
They are grown by a large vineyard in Hungary. There they are destemmed and crushed and then transferred to the Netherlands. This is the few days cold-soak I was talking about.

As far as I know, the climate here is not suitable for growing (quality) grapes. Although the summers are getting significantly warmer (yay climatechange), it is way too wet. There are some growers, but they mostly produce white and sparkling wines.
 

Cap Puncher

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I know the consensus was “low intervention” but even low intervention wineries use egg white fining sometimes on big tannin bombs. Check out the practices of Ridge.


They use very low intervention pre-industrial winemaking but definitely use egg whites on some of their overly tannic batches. If you look up their wine on the website, the “winemaking” section will give a brief summary of their techniques for each batch. It really depends on the style you are going for. Patience is a good thing but some harsh bad tannins, don’t always smooth out (especially if the acid is higher, which can make the harsh tannins even worse). Good luck in whatever you decide!
 

Hazelemere

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Hungarian Cabernet Sauvignon is generally full-bodied, mouth-filling and tannic from "Wines of Hungary" Use egg white from 1 egg per carboy. Bordeaux winemakers do this routinely . Add a bit of water and salt to it and stir it so it froths like a meringue. Then shoot it into the wine with a syringe. I've done this more than once. it works every time and makes a big difference to tannin levels.
 

Steve Atwood

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My cabernet sauvignon is aging since last fall, about nine months now. I must say, not really pleased with the results so far. The taste is still very harsh, it makes your tongue and gums go dry. Is it possible it’s over extracted? It has been on skins a long time, cold soaking for three/four days and an AF on the skins of about two weeks.

So, I want to do a test and try to soften the wine a bit using egg whites. In the book Modern Home Winemaking by Daniel Pambianchi it says they use about 1-5 egg whites for a whole barrel. My batch is 15L or 4 gallons, so the amount would be significantly less. Besides I would like to do a test before adding it to the whole batch. Considering the total batch size, these tests would preferably very small, so the amount of egg white would even be smaller. I could let it age a bit more before making such adjustments, but I would like to use the space and equipment for next batch and have it bottled by September.

This year I’m planning to go for different varieties, merlot and cabernet franc. These should be less tannic and earlier drinkers, so one approach could be to keep the cab-sauv and blend it afterwards. This would really test my patience, I prefer to have something to sample over the upcoming months. Perhaps egg-white treat and bottle about 1/3 of the batch, and keep 2/3 for blending. Amounts depending on the results of the egg white treatment.

What I’m trying to achieve posting this question is a bit of guidance. How would you continue? The wine is still on the young side (nine months), should I let it age more? Perhaps look for a different fining agent? How can I accurately preform bench trials using egg whites?

Thanks for your time,
Jesse
I just bought Daniel's book It is awesome..
 

E.E.B.

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Hungarian Cabernet Sauvignon is generally full-bodied, mouth-filling and tannic from "Wines of Hungary" Use egg white from 1 egg per carboy. Bordeaux winemakers do this routinely . Add a bit of water and salt to it and stir it so it froths like a meringue. Then shoot it into the wine with a syringe. I've done this more than once. it works every time and makes a big difference to tannin levels.​
You never make a meringue from egg white for wine fining, this will destroy the proteins and the egg white will no longer fine any harsh tannin. you have to stir gently to dissolve the egg white in the water but you have to minimize the air introduction to avoid foaming.

See the AWRI guide for fining agent:

"Preparation of a 10% w/v stock solution for laboratory fining trials Break eggs and separate the white from the yolk. Weigh egg whites into a large beaker. Add 10 times this weight of distilled water which has been adjusted to pH 7 (using potassium carbonate) and containing 0.5 % potassium chloride. Dissolving can be facilitated by potassium chloride as it maintains the globulins in solution. Stir gently, but avoid foaming, until dissolved. Vigorous stirring will denature the proteins. The egg white solution must be prepared fresh and used on the same day. Egg white is also available in dried and frozen form, however fresh egg whites tend to give the best result."
 

Hazelemere

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You never make a meringue from egg white for wine fining, this will destroy the proteins and the egg white will no longer fine any harsh tannin. you have to stir gently to dissolve the egg white in the water but you have to minimize the air introduction to avoid foaming.

See the AWRI guide for fining agent:

"Preparation of a 10% w/v stock solution for laboratory fining trials Break eggs and separate the white from the yolk. Weigh egg whites into a large beaker. Add 10 times this weight of distilled water which has been adjusted to pH 7 (using potassium carbonate) and containing 0.5 % potassium chloride. Dissolving can be facilitated by potassium chloride as it maintains the globulins in solution. Stir gently, but avoid foaming, until dissolved. Vigorous stirring will denature the proteins. The egg white solution must be prepared fresh and used on the same day. Egg white is also available in dried and frozen form, however fresh egg whites tend to give the best result."
my mistake you a right

 

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