Home Wine Industry Spotlights Alternatives to SO2 to Protect Wine Post-Fermentation – Winemaker’s Toolkit

Alternatives to SO2 to Protect Wine Post-Fermentation – Winemaker’s Toolkit

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The harvest hustle is over, and fermentations are finished. Winemakers are now starting to think about maintaining and preserving their wines’ quality throughout the ageing and bottling process.

Over the past few years, everything from wildfires to the COVID-19 pandemic to heat waves and cold snaps have disrupted their standard practices. Many winemakers are bottling earlier to quickly rebuild inventory consumed by unexpected sales growth during the pandemic and the growing consumer demand for younger, fresher wines.

Three essential products to add to their toolkits are Aroma ProtectKillBrett, and Tan&Sense Volume by Lamothe-Abiet, which protect against oxidation and microbial contamination. They are all vegan, allergen-free, and natural, alternatives to SO2, increasingly important to the sought-after Millennials generation.

1. Building natural wine resistance to oxidation

Aroma Protect is a yeast derivates, rich in glutathione. This wine additive focuses on building wine resistance to oxidation and prevents premature ageing (browning, loss of structure, balance, freshness, and off-tastes).

“The main thing winemakers do after fermentation is to add sulfur to wine,” says Eglantine Chauffour, Director of Oenology and Marketing at Bucher Vaslin North America (B.V.N.A.) and Product Manager of Lamothe Abiet. ““We have natural, vegan, allergen-free and efficient alternatives to SO2 available to winemakers, such as Aroma Protect”.

Chauffour recommends adding Aroma Protect to the wine, toward the end of fermentation. Rich in reducing compounds, it releases glutathione (GSH) in the wine, a natural antioxidant compounds, present in grapes and usually consumed during the pre-fermentation and fermentation stages. Adding Aroma Protect allows a release of GSH in the wine which reduces wine redox potential, significantly slowing oxidation and protecting aromas and freshness.

2. Protecting wine from microbial contamination

Microorganisms play an essential role in winemaking. However, foreign microbes can gain a foothold after fermentation and introduce unintended aromas and flavors that range from mousiness to the barnyard smell of Brettanomyces, the vinegary taste of acetic acid, or the stinging scent of ethyl acetate.

“Many winemakers use sulfur to avoid this type of development, but it has many flaws and and doesn’t work in all conditions,” says Chauffour, “so we have KillBrett, a pure chitosan and wide spectrum anti-microbial agent which they can use with or instead of sulfur to control microbial populations. We extract the active molecule chitosan from Aspergillus Niger, a fungus, which is natural, vegan, and allergen-free. It’s amazing to see how nature can provide us solutions; we don’t need to invent new molecules but look around us as nature balances itself.”

Chitosan is a fining agent that binds with microbes, penetrating their cell membranes and making them leak, leading to their death. When the wine is racked, the remnants are left behind in the lees.

Chauffour recommends a preventative approach of adding the KillBrett post-fermentation instead of waiting until contamination develops. “This gentler, more holistic method has less impact on the wine and lowers the cost for the producer. Once winemakers try it, they always stay with it” she notes.

Read our 2021 Microbial Stability article here.

3. Protect wine from oxidation during transfer

The third product Chauffour suggests for post-fermentation is Tan&Sense Volume, an untoasted French oak tannin that protects from oxidation whenever winemakers transfer wine between containers. Where Aroma Protect builds long-lasting protection from oxidation, Tan&Sense Volume delivers immediate protection of the wine, reacting with oxygen radicals that are created with oxygen contact. Adding a small dosage of 0.5-1 g/hL before moving the wine will protect it from oxidation that could happen during the transfer.

In conclusion:

These three protective products address the two ageing concerns of oxidation and microbial spoilage, allowing winemakers to celebrate the holidays without worrying about their wine while reducing their SO2 usage.

If you have questions, you can reach out to Eglantine Chauffour at [email protected].

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