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Why Do Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme?

Posted on November 11, 2010 by Ed Kraus There have been 16 comment(s)


Pectic Enzyme For Wine RecipeHi

This is Greg again with another question.  I have been making wine with your concentrated homemade wine kits for several years and have had a lot of fun for sure.  I would like to make apple wine...  saw the apple recipe you have on your website.  It looks a lot like making wine from concentrate.  The only thing I do not understand is the pectic enzyme. What is that used for?


Dear Greg,

Pectic enzyme is called for in almost all wine recipes that use fresh fruit. The recipes you see in books like The First Steps In Wine Making and the wine recipes on our website will all call for pectic enzymes. However, you do not need to add it to wines made from concentrated homemade wine kits, like the ones you have been making wine with. This is because the necessary pectic enzyme has already been added to the concentrate by the wine kit producer.

Pectic enzyme plays two very distinct and important roles in the wine making process. First and foremost, pectic enzymes helps to break down the fruit's fiber or pulp. This allows more flavor and color to be extracted from whatever fruit is being used during the fermentation. Secondly, it helps to make sure the wine has a clearer, more translucent, appearance after the fermentation has completed and the wine has had ample time to clear up.

Pectic enzyme accomplishes both of these tasks by breaking down the pectin cells in the fruit. Pectin is the gelatinous material that, for example, holds together the strands of fiber found within a strawberry or grape. It is also the "stuff" that makes apple sauce thick.

By breaking down these pectin cells, the fruit's pulp becomes less thick. This allows more of the fruit's character to be released during fermentation or even when running the pulp through the grape presses. Because pectin is somewhat opaque, if it isn't sufficiently broken down during the fermentation, the resulting wine will have a pectin haze. This type of defect is not correctable once the fermentation is complete.

When making wine from concentrated homemade wine kits, the flavor and color extraction has already been taken care of for you. No pulp is involved and Pectic enzyme is not necessary. It's one more variable that these kits take out of the equation so that you can be a successful home wine maker.

Happy Wine Making
Customer Service
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

This post was posted in Q&A, Wine Making Blog

16 thoughts on “Why Do Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme?”

  • Barbara R.

    Can pectin enzyme be added and a second fermentation begun to correct hazy wine? I have some peach/apricot that is hazy. My recipe did not call for pectin enzyme but did call for grape tannin which ibjrs supposed to help with clearing but that does not seem to have happened.

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Yes, you can add pectic enzyme now and try to start a second fermentation. The problem is, it's not guaranteed that a second fermentation will start. The presence of alcohol, lack of nutrients, among other things, makes this endeavor very unpredictable and very risky. If you fail, the wine can end up tasting disgustingly sweet. A better option is to add a double-dose of pectic enzyme now and simply let the wine age with it.

  • Ramesh S. Bhide
    Ramesh S. Bhide November 1, 2011 at 2:34 am

    I am 67 years Young of India and never tasted hard drinks but as hobby I am making variety of fruit wines since 1970 to offer my friends and now I am doing a bit of consultancy for wine making.

  • elijah

    what happens if you dont use the pectic enzyms in your wine???

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service January 9, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Most of the time, if you don't use Pectic Enzyme your wine will turn out just fine. But what can happen is your wine can develop a pectin haze. This is a permenant haze in the wine that can not be removed with clarifiers and such.

  • Stuart

    I have two batches of Muscadine wine Black and Golden.Primary fermentation is still gooing strong after 7 days and I am about to transfer to secondary fermentation...can I add the pectin or is it too late?

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service April 2, 2012 at 6:59 am

    You do not want to add pectin. That is the opposite of the pectic enzyme we are talking about above. To answer your question, it is never too late to add pectic enzyme to a wine. Go ahead and add it. There is no downside in doing so, only potential benefit to the wine.

  • Mark J

    Another benefit to leaving the pectic enzyme out is that you can use bentonite which helps clarify the wine. I know it sounds weird to be thinking about clarifying on day-one but it helps. If you use both, the bentonite cancels out the effect of the pectic enzyme.

    Most importantly, if you are using a kit, stick to the recipe unless you are willing to risk the consequences (because you've tried the recipe a few times and want to experiment to see what something else does). Usually, it turns out worse.

  • Ron Wolfe

    What is the difference between liquid an powdered pectic Enzyme?
    I purchased a powdered enzyme when making cranberry wine last year and I now have a grape recipe that calls for liquid enzyme.

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service October 1, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Ron, there is really no difference at all in how they function. Their strength can very regardless of what form they come in, so it is best that you follow any directions that come on the package.

  • Mel

    Again, thank you for your blog. Is there a benefit of using bentonite over pectic enzyme as Mark J said? What is the shelf life of pectic enzyme? Also if yeast energizer and or nutrient is past the used by date, can you use it if you cannot detect a rancid odor? The cost is minimal but sometimes you may be in a pinch and need to take a chance. Thanking you again. Mel

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service August 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Mel, if you are making wine from fresh fruits, you need to use pectic enzyme to bring out more fruit flavor and help insure that your wine does not end up with a pectin haze. While bentonite should be used after the fermentation to clear out proteins, it will not prevent a pectin haze from occurring. Pectic enzyme loses about 10% of it's activity level every month at normal room temperature. Using out-dated nutrients will not hurt the wine, just realize that it my have lost most of its effectiveness.

  • patrick

    i;m making juice from chokecherries for wine by pouring boiling water on them and will break them up after the skins have softened. can i add pectic enzyme when it's hot or does heat affect the enzyme?

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service August 29, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Patrick, unfortunately pectic enzyme, like any enzyme is reactive to heat. It actually most active at around 125°F. As you go above or below that temperature it becomes marginally active. And, like most organic elements they will start to die or become denatured at about 180°F. So I guess you could put the pectic enzyme in as you are heating up the fruit and treat it similar to a brew mash. Hold the heat at around 120°F. to 130°F. for a will then heat it on up for extraction.

  • Cathy kayser

    I forgot to add the pectic enzyme 12 hours prior to adding my yeast starter. Nutrient and oakmor. I added it about 1 hour before. How might this effect my fermentation and over all product?

    • Ed Kraus

      Cathy, as long as you added the pectic enzyme before fermentation began, it will not affect your fermentation process. Even if you forget to add it and added it later in the process all you need to do is add a double dose.

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