When it comes to crafting the perfect wine, it’s not just about grapes and barrels. Hidden within the winemaking process are unsung heroes known as enzymes. Those natural occurring magicians create a symphony of chemical reactions that shape the very essence of your favorite vino.

Enzymes play a critical role in winemaking(Credit: Christoph Burgstedt/stock.adobe.com)

Accelerating Flavor

Enzymes, those microscopic protein powerhouses, are the unknown superstars working behind the scenes during winemaking. These tiny dynamos speed up crucial chemical reactions that influence the flavor, aroma, and texture of your wine. While many of these reactions are naturally catalyzed by enzymes from sources like grapes and microorganisms, commercial enzymes have also emerged as effective tools for winemakers.

Caramelized honey that is fermented with water and yeast to make mead.

(Photo by Nathan Kosmak, unsplash.com)

A Dance of Transformation

Just imagine: Enzymes at work, orchestrating a complex dance of flavors and compounds. During oxidation, grape phenolics undergo a transformation, while volatile compounds come to life even before fermentation begins. Enzymes remain active during the alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, turning silent precursors into vibrant, aroma-rich compounds. These enzymatic actions determine the efficiency of key winemaking steps like color extraction, clarification, and protein stabilization, shaping the modern wine cellar.

Meet the Enzymes

In this ensemble, four key players steal the spotlight: pectinases, glucanases, glycosides, and lysozyme.

🍇 Pectinases: The Viscosity Virtuosos

Pectinases, the dynamic trio of pectin lyase, pectin methyl-esterase, and polygalacturonase, cut the long chains of pectins into smaller fragments, reducing viscosity and enhancing clarification. These heroes work wonders for red varieties, breaking down cell walls to extract anthocyanins and tannins, intensifying color and stability. But that’s not all — pectinases ramp up pre-fermentation stages, elevate juice yield, and amplify settling and pressing. The result? Improved grape must quality with elevated aromas and polyphenol concentrations.

🍇 Glucanases: The Filtration Magicians

Enter glucanases, battling the viscosity villains produced by the noble rot, called Botrytis cinerea. By snipping glucans into manageable lengths, these enzymes make wine filtration a breeze. In regions like Tokaj, Hungary, β-glucanases are the secret weapon for smoother, swiffer filtration. The outcome? Faster filtration processes, reduced media usage, and enhanced yeast autolysis — all contributing to a refined winemaking experience.

Cheers! (Credit: Salem Ochidi, unsplash.com)

🍇 Glycosidases: Unleashing the Aromas

Have you ever wondered how those captivating wine aromas are so dominant? Meet the glycosidases, the aroma liberators. These enzymes break glycoside bonds, releasing aromas and enriching the wine’s aromatic profile. While linalool enhances floral notes, phenols and terpenes add depth and citric notes. High-terpene varieties like Riesling and Gewürztraminer benefit most from glycosidase treatment, enhancing their varietal typical flavors.

🍇 Lysozyme: The Microbial Maestro

In the microbial realm, lysozyme takes the stage, curbing the growth of gram-positive spoilage bacteria, guiding malolactic fermentations, and stabilizing wines after the fermentation. A true hero in maintaining a healthy fermentation environment, lysozyme plays a pivotal role in ensuring a flawless wine production process.

🍇 Unveiling the Enzymatic Symphony

In the grand finale, remember that the winemaking journey is a harmonious blend of enzymatic symphonies. Pectinases clarify and intensify, glucanases smooth the path, glycosidases release captivating aromas, and lysozyme ensures microbial balance. Together, these enzymes weave a masterpiece of flavor, aroma, and texture, elevating every sip of wine to a delightful experience.

So, the next time you enjoy your favorite wine, think of the hidden heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes — the enzymes that transform grapes into liquid poetry. At VinoVoss, we raise our glasses to the science and artistry of winemaking!🥂🍷

Lotte Gabrovits

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