Chapter 20

Enzymes and Winemaking

(book excerpts)

Enzymes play a pivotal role in the winemaking process. Enzymes are basically proteins that speed up the chemical reactions during winemaking. The names of the majority of enzymes end in -ase, which makes them easy to identify. Enzymes are highly specific, acting on one substrate, or a limited number of substrates under mild conditions. Many of these enzymes originate from the grapes. Since the endogenous enzymes of grapes are often neither efficient nor sufficient under winemaking conditions, commercial enzyme preparations are widely used as supplements. Enzymes used in winemaking provide a number of technical advantages: they improve juice extraction; improve clarification, filtration, and yield; assist in wine aging on lees, and enhance wine aroma. The most widely used enzymes available for commercial use, oenologically, are pectinases, glucanases, glycosidases, hemicellulases, and cellulases, the singularly most important being pectinases.

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