Color is one of the main considerations for consumers when tasting wine, especially red wine. Whether a beginner or a wine connoisseur, consumers consciously or unconsciously accept color cues when tasting and buying wine. Hue on the red-purple-blue range can reflect the acidity of a wine, opacity can indicate tannin levels, and color intensity can indicate vintage.
The annoyance of many winemakers is seeing the color they spend a lot of time and money creating disappear as the wine ages.
Producing an appealing, authentic color starts in the vineyard, where grape variety, soil, temperature, canopy, and other factors work together to produce a wine’s color. Climate change has increased the unpredictability of blends and disrupted tried and true vineyard management techniques. After harvest, winemakers begin extracting color at the time of pressing, at which point temperature, the use of full-cluster fermentation or cold maceration, and added compounds can all affect the color that goes into the bottle—and the color that emerges years later.
Leo Facini, Technical Specialist and General Manager JUCLAS, USAThe direct subsidiary of VASONGROUP in the U.S. believes that winemakers should do the same to preserve this color. “If you swirl the wine, you’ll notice the color of the glass itself – that’s an unstable color that the winemaker could have preserved. The same is true when washing the cans, where the color turns purple, or the tartrate turns red when it cools to stabilize, Because of the color drag during crystal formation.”
Gum Arabic is one of the key tools winemakers use to stabilize and maintain color and reduce tannin astringency for a more pleasing round and smooth mouthfeel. Two types of sub-Saharan African trees naturally produce chewing gum, harvested by tapping the trunk –Acacia Senegalresulting in long-chain chewing gum, and Acaciaresulting in short-chain chewing gum.
“Many people don’t realize how different long-chain and short-chain gum arabic is,” Facini noted. “They just think, ‘I’ve got Arabic gum and it’s going to give me that extra sweetness and roundness.’ Sometimes I’ll shake the wine in the glass and ask them, ‘You’ve spent so much time, energy and money getting the grapes out of your mouth.’ What about the colors you have left in the cup? Isn’t it worth the chain of effort to bring color to the customer?”
Long-chain gums are more effective at stabilizing wine color, while short-chain gums move better in the final microfiltration. Most chewing gums on the market are a blend of the two substances, using only a modest proportion of the long chain, while relying on the short chain varieties to pass the final microfiltration stage.
Enologica Vason, the ingredient division of VASONGROUP, decided to change that equation and developed a new, patented, filterable 100% long-chain gum arabic.
“We have implemented quality control of chewing gum from African raw materials throughout the production process in the factory,” said Gianmaria Zanella, responsible for laboratories, R&D and quality control at Enologica Vason. “We then developed and patented Smart Filtration, a process that makes chewing gum stable, high-performance and filterable.”
The result is Icon Gum, which enables winemakers to maintain color stability without reducing the wine’s brightness and increasing its cloudiness like other gums on the market.
“We started five years ago and released it for the first time in Europe in 2019 after ensuring its performance and filterability,” Zanella added. “Then we worked with our JUCLAS R&D team in the US to gather feedback from long-term customers, because the grape substrate and soil are different than in Europe. They liked it and found that Icon Gum required 50-60 lower doses than other gums on the market %.”
“Our technical process provides products that are all long-chain chewing gum,” Facini points out. “Icon Gum is a huge gap between most chewing gums that mix short and long chains. It’s a handy tool for winemakers to put in their toolbox.”
Icon Gum’s filterable 100% long-chain gum arabic provides winemakers with more effective protection against pigmentation while enhancing the roundness and softness of the palate.
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