From the annals of wine marketing…enzymes!

We’re all snow-bound here in the northeast today. So rather than shoveling, kick back and check out the latest video from the annals of wine marketing! This one is from enzymes producer Novozymes and was sent in by site reader Damien.

Here’s the video’s pitch on why winemakers should use enzymes:

Major wineries produce large quantities of wine and as a result need to optimize their capacity by reducing production times. [image: hand harvesting] Enzymes are used by these larger wineries to speed up production process. Small wineries on the other hand are more interested in using enzymes to produce a higher quality of wine, particularly when the grape quality isn’t the best.

Other quotage comes form their enthusiastic client, Ch. Tour Prignac, who says that they use it “to produce optimum quality and obtain a color fitting to a great, age-worthy wine.”

They later elaborate that their products, under the VinoFlo name, offer deep colors and flavor intensity.

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17 Responses to “From the annals of wine marketing…enzymes!”

  1. um . . . .
    yikes! that’s a little scary . . .is there not enough color and age worthy stuff just from the grapes??

  2. Great. “Yikes!… scary.” Was that the purpose of this post – to generate fear and loathing? Is it time to bash a common and useful winemaking practice?

    Look, there are white grapes that you simply can’t press the juice out of unless you add the enzyme pectinase to the press. The availability of pectinase is a godsend to producers of these wines.

    Most of the other enzyme preparations (typically cellulases and hemicellulases) are geared to increase the rate of grape cell wall breakdown. Large wineries can take advantage of this activity to increase the rate of color and tannin release from inside red grapes – this can reduce the residency time in the fermenter, which can increase production efficiency.

    As an artisanal producer I am less concerned with tank latency, but I am very concerned to get the best tannin structure and mouthfeel from every small lot of grapes I produce. I have experimented with these cellulase-type enzymes for about 15 years. In my opinion the claims by the manufacturers for these preps are mostly hyperbolic. In my experience they do not increase color in the finished wine.

    They do however affect the tannin structure and mouthfeel. I feel this effect is negative in Pinot Noir (won’t use cellulases there) but can be positive in Rhone grapes. The hypothesis is that the enzymes release tannins into solution earlier in the ferment, which allows more time for them to react with each other before the yeast produce alcohol (which slows or prevents some of these reactions).

    Regardless of the actual mechanism, I have evaluated side-by-side comparisons of Syrah and Mourvedre made with and without cellulase, and often the cellulase-treated lots show less gritty tannins and broader mouthfeel. This effect does persist as the wine ages, and I have found that the enzyme-added lots can give more enjoyment when old than the non-treated lots. So I do use these enzymes in some of my red Rhone production, especially if the seeds are not uniformly ripe. Unripe seeds have more harsh and gritty tannins. If the seeds are uniformly ripe I am less likely to use enzyme.

    Addressing concerns about additions of enzymes: 1) These are food-grade products, manufactured and tested to assure they don’t contain unhealthy contaminants. I wouldn’t want my kids eating these preps by the teaspoon, but if they did I would not be freaking out and calling poison control. 2) These enzymes are proteins, and like the vast majority of proteins they will not stay in solution indefinitely in wine. Very very few proteins stay soluble in the low pH, high alcohol and high tannin content of wine, instead they fall out of solution in the lees – the same process that occurs with the enzymes and other proteins that are present in the grapes at harvest.

    So while everyone is free to choose differently, I don’t live in fear of enzyme usage in winemaking. To quote Roy Batty from Blade Runner – “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it. That’s what it is to be a slave.”

  3. Enological tannins rock! I’ve used enzymes with cellulase and hemicellulase side activities with Pinot with great results. It is nice to use as an insurance policy when you may want to avoid too many punchdowns at the end of fermentation. At least you know you broke down those cell walls without too much mechanical bashing.

    Like everything else in winemaking, you have to use your judgement. Winemaking in and of itself is an interventionist activity. When to intervene and how much is up to each winemaker. Bottom line is what is in the bottle.

  4. While I can understand the efficiency and cost-effective use of enzymes, this video kind of takes the “romance” out of it all, doesn’t it? Very dry… pardon the pun.

  5. More artificial winemaking, accompanied as usual by those who will defend anything. If you can’t make wine without chemical/mechanical/manipulative intervention (yes I know that winemaking must have some inherent interventions) then maybe think about not making wine.

  6. Nimby – your pseudonym is telling. Seems to me you are just another ideologue substituting sheeple-propagated dogma for knowledge and skill. I’d be happy to taste my wines blind against yours anytime. That is, if you make wine.

    Yes I can make wine without chemical/mechanical/manipulative intervention. But I also know how to make better wine with just the right amount of it.

  7. WOW! I usually don’t have time for this kind of stuff but being as it is raining out here in suny CA thought I would just take a quick glance at WBM and you sucked me in. Couldn’t get the video to feed properly but figured I had to comment; like I said: It’s raining outside.

    Good job John and David. I too use enzymes (the building blocks of all proteins that occur in nature)for Pinot Noir, predominately to brake down the skins during the aqueous phase (cold soak for up to 4 days)and not the alcoholic phase of fermentation, hence leading to more stable color. Enzymes do not add any more color than the grape inherently has, just allows it to leach out quicker. That being said they do nothing to speed up how long I leave my wines in the fermenter, or for that matter in the barrel; that is solely determined by flavors, especially the quality of the tannins that exist due to vintage, crop load, cultivar…. Some of my wines stay in the winery for 3 years, in barrel, prior to bottling – so much for “speeding up the process”.

    Sorry Nimby, EVERYTHING about winemaking and viticulture (grapes do not grow in rows with drip irrigation, trellising, fertilizer, various sprays, shoot positioning, leaf pulling, harvesting… not to mention that it is a monoculture) is interventionist and everything in the WORLD, including winemaking, is based on chemical reactions, hence the reason why an Oenology degree is also called an “applied chemistry” degree. That is what grapes, and everything that surrounds us, are made of: chemicals. Grapes really want to end up as CO2 and Water (more “chemicals”) with 2 basic stops along the way: wine (a “soup” of chemicals which we like) and vinegar (another “soup” of chemicals which winemakers don’t like, at least not in their winery!).

    Hope it stops raining soon!

  8. Just a question: before there were enzymes–did anyone make wine? OK, 2nd question–was any of it good? OK, 3rd question–oh, never mind…

  9. John – blind tasting to prove your point? Come on, really.

    But perhaps you can tell us all what brand is your wine, and then take the right step of putting your interventionist practices on your labels.

  10. Steve,
    1. Yes. Before enzymes people made wine
    2. Yes. Some of it was good.

    Also before anti-lock brakes we made cars and yes some of them were good.

    Before color television there was television and yes some of it was good.

    Before there were sewing machines there were clothes and yes some of them were good.

    I guess I just like this century better than 8000 BC

  11. David; how do you know?

  12. […] 28, 2010 · Jätä kommentti Dr. Vinon tuore postaus käsittelee entsyymejä, joita monet tuottajat lisäävät viineihinsä, koska niiden avulla voidaan muokata esimerkiksi […]

  13. Before Wonderbread there was bread made with just flour, water, yeast and salt.

    Before Chef Boyardee Ravioli there was just ravioli made by Italians.

    Before Velveeta there was just cheese.

  14. Mark – really? Do a little homework. All it takes is a click on a link for you to find out who I am, what brand I own and produce, and (if you have the stomach to read my blog) to find out more than you probably want to know about my approach to winegrowing. There’s none of that on your post – you might as well be “anonymous.”

    And of course, a blind tasting. It is decades of experimentation in the vineyard and winery, followed by blind tasting of the results, that has defined for me when, how and how much I should “intervene” in order to make wines that more fully express my goals. My winegrowing technique was developed from experience, and continues to evolve – a far cry from adopting some sterile, static dogma after reading the scribblings of a few “experts.”

    And regarding taking “the right step of putting your interventionist practices on your labels.” Because you think I should? Get real. The TTB may soon require expanded composition labelling for allergens, and so far as I know the FDA has punted indefinitely on nutritional labelling for wine. I am happy to write about my practices and describe them face to face, but they would cover one huge label.

    But I get the sense that you would not be satisfied with my practices anyway. True? I guess that means I am not making the wine you are looking for. You know? I can live with that.

  15. John – obviously a sensitive subject for you – sorry. I am not trying to upset you or anyone else… I am just a consumer expressing an opinion. Nope, I am not an ‘expert’ as you say. Most of us consumers aren’t. And as you say – if I don’t like your wine, so what?

    My point was that you know – as do most winemakers – that all things equal, we’d all prefer a more natural product. You’re saying the label would be too big to describe all the manipulation that takes place – fine, you’re right. But the fact remains that winemwakers who make lab/factory wine wont even TALK about the stuff they do, and in many cases bar their vendors from referencing them publicly.

    So come on, let’s just be honest. These practices are shortcuts, fair and simple.

    But whatever. I just buy the stuff.

  16. Steve De Long – perfectly stated. Apparently does not resonate however with some here.

  17. Mark – I admit I am growing increasingly irritated at the air of partisanship around the question of “natural” vs. “interventionist” winemaking. It is a false dichotomy. Wine is interventionist by definition, and “natural” is not a defined construct. Sure, wine can be made from just grapes – but there are very few grapes grown in the world that by themselves can make a wine as exciting and rewarding as one made with just a few more ingredients.

    In any case, you and I are discussing artisanal wines, which represent a volume that is a rounding error in the wider world of wine production. The fact is that the vast majority of grapes grown in the world cannot be persuaded to make the sort of wine you and I prefer, even with the utmost manipulation. This discrepancy in volume reflects the fact that the vast majority of consumers don’t think at all about how “natural” the product is – they simply want the most value for dollar in a serviceable beverage that can take away their cares.

    So how about we admit that high-volume, high value wines made from at best mediocre grapes require industrial production methods. Neither of us particularly wants to drink those wines, and I definitely don’t want to make them myself. (Though lord knows I would consider doing it — in return for a regular salary, regular hours, and health and retirement benefits — things I just don’t get as an artisanal producer.)

    So if we are just talking about wines made by hand in small quantities from high-quality fruit, I don’t know where you get the idea that additions and interventions are shortcuts. Shortcuts? For what?

    Being on the inside, I do know how some expensive cult wines are made. These wines are not made for you or for me, but are made to get high scores from the most influential rankers. Making these wines is a lot of work, and costs a fortune in equipment, barrels, grapes, consulting fees, services, and lab work. I can tell you that the folks who have developed methods to achieve these scores consider them to be intellectual property, and are deadly serious about protecting their rights. They are NEVER going to tell you how their wines are made.

    On the other hand, I’m not making wines in that style because I don’t like to drink wines in that style. My own winemaking philosophy is never to do anything to a wine that I am not 100% sure needs to be done to make that wine taste better to me, and absolutely never to do anything just because it can be done, or because others are doing it, or because some scribbler says it’s what I should be doing.

    Want to know how I make wine? Read Peynaud’s “Knowing And Making Wine” — that’s some old-shcool stuff, and about 90% of what I do is found in there. Another 5% you could find in my blog if you knew what to look for. The last 5% is my own IP. Anyway, we’re talking about 200,000 words or so to explain 95% of my methodology, which is why I made the droll remark about the very big label.

    On the other hand, I believe each and every one of us has the right to know what we are putting in our bodies. I wish providing that information was simple and straightforward, but it’s not. Given that the only thing we have a right to know is what’s actually in the bottle we buy, what do you want me to test for? Seriously, I’m asking. Alcohol and calories? Sugar level? If so, which sugar(s)? Level of tannin? Defined how? Level of biogenic amines? Which one(s)? Level of potential allergenic proteins? Again, which ones? Pesticides? Plasticizers? Heavy metals? Plutonium? How much extra are you willing to pay for that bottle to cover the costs of all that testing?

    OK it’s late and my young daughter just woke up whimpering about a muscle she pulled badly while playing earlier today. Time to go deal wiht something important. Cheers.


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