How do you add pectic enzyme to must?

Answered by Matthew Yawn

Adding pectic enzyme to grape must is a crucial step in the winemaking process, as it helps to enhance the extraction of color, flavor, and aroma compounds from the grape skins. As an expert sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to work with pectic enzymes and can provide you with a detailed explanation of how to add them to the must.

1. Understanding the Maceration Period:
The maceration period is a stage in winemaking where the crushed grapes and are left in contact with the grape skins. This contact allows for the extraction of various compounds, including tannins, anthocyanins, and aromatic compounds. The duration of maceration depends on the desired style of and can range from several days to a few weeks.

2. Importance of Pectic Enzyme:
Pectin is a complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants, including grape skins. It can contribute to the cloudiness and haze in the wine if not properly broken down. Pectic enzymes, such as pectinase, are added to the must to break down the pectin molecules, allowing for better extraction of desirable compounds during maceration.

3. Choosing the Right Pectic Enzyme:
There are various types of pectic enzymes available in the market, including liquid and powdered forms. It is essential to choose a pectic enzyme that is suitable for winemaking and follows the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer. The enzyme should be specifically formulated for grapes and have a high pectinase activity.

4. When to Add Pectic Enzyme:
Pectic enzymes are typically added to the must during the maceration period. Depending on the winemaker's preference and the grape variety, pectic enzyme can be added either before or after the addition of for fermentation. Some winemakers choose to add pectic enzyme immediately after crushing the grapes, while others prefer to wait for a short period before adding it. The timing may vary based on the desired outcome and winemaker's experience.

5. How to Add Pectic Enzyme:
To add pectic enzyme to the must, follow these steps:

A. Measure the recommended dosage of pectic enzyme based on the volume of must and the concentration specified by the manufacturer. It is crucial to be precise in measuring the enzyme to avoid any imbalances.

B. Dilute the pectic enzyme in a small amount of or grape juice before adding it to the must. This helps to ensure even distribution of the enzyme throughout the must.

C. Slowly pour the diluted pectic enzyme solution into the must while stirring gently. The goal is to evenly distribute the enzyme and ensure it comes into contact with the grape skins.

D. After adding the pectic enzyme, continue with the maceration period as per the winemaking protocol. Monitor the progress of maceration, including color extraction and flavor development, to determine the optimal duration.

6. Additional Considerations:
– It is important to follow the specific instructions provided by the pectic enzyme manufacturer regarding dosage, temperature, and contact time.
– Avoid adding pectic enzyme to the must at high temperatures, as excessive heat can denature the enzyme and reduce its effectiveness.
– Some winemakers prefer to perform a small-scale trial before adding pectic enzyme to the entire batch of must. This allows them to assess the impact of the enzyme on color extraction and flavor development.
– Store pectic enzyme according to the manufacturer's instructions to maintain its effectiveness over time.

Adding pectic enzyme to grape must during the maceration period is a critical step in winemaking. It helps to break down pectin in the grape skins, allowing for enhanced extraction of color, flavor, and aroma compounds. By following the recommended dosage and procedures, winemakers can optimize the maceration process and ultimately create wines with greater complexity and depth.