Protein stabilisation of white wine with DCMC

by | May 29, 2022 | South Africa Wine Scan

A new kid on the block:

There seems to be a new contender to potentially replace bentonite as the strategy of choice to protein stabilise white wines. Portuguese researchers evaluated dicarboxymethyl cellulose (DCMC), a novel cellulose-derived polymer similar to the more well-known CMC used for wine tartrate stabilisation, for this purpose. Their initial very small-scale results showed that it can work.


How it works:

Unlike CMC that becomes mostly uncharged at wine pH, DCMC is negatively charged at wine pH and therefore has the capability to adsorb positively charged substances and wine proteins.


Why cellulose?

Cellulose is the most abundant organic material in nature. It is biodegradable and renewable. Cellulose-based materials are commonly used in various applications, for example as adsorbents in wastewater treatment. The development of new cellulose-based polymers is motivated by the demand of low-cost and environmentally friendly materials. DCMC was recently developed and experimented with in the treatment of wastewater containing textile industry dyes, such as methylene blue. It proved efficient for that purpose in small-scale experiments. The researchers then turned their attention to wine.


The research results:

The researchers compared DCMC and bentonite for the protein stabilisation of Encruzado, Viosinho and Moscatel de Setúbal. These are their main results:

  • DCMC and bentonite both achieved heat test stability at all the dosages tested for the first two wines. Only bentonite achieved stability at a very high dosage in the Moscatel wine.
  • DCMC removed a smaller fraction of phenolic compounds than bentonite.
  • DCMC removed significantly more calcium than bentonite (a positive for the prevention of calcium tartrate instability).
  • DCMC had a similar effect on the volatile organic compounds of the wines as bentonite, although in some cases there could be analytically distinguished between bentonite and DCMC treated wines.


The limitations of the study:

The study was done on very small scale (20 ml of wine), with a completely newly synthesized cellulose polymer and using typical Portuguese varieties, not that well-known in the world.


The significance of the study:

Except for the wine with the highest protein content, DCMC worked and should be further investigated on larger scale and on well-known varieties such as Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay, for instance.  The economic viability and sustainability advantages compared to bentonite usage should also be investigated.

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Saracino F, Brinco J, Gago D, Gomes da Silva M, Boavida Ferreira R, Ricardo-da-Silva J, Chagas R, Ferreira LM. DCMC as a Promising Alternative to Bentonite in White Wine Stabilization. Impact on Protein Stability and Wine Aromatic Fraction. Molecules. 2021; 26(20):6188.

Gago D, Chagas R, Ferreira LM. The Effect of Dicarboxymethyl Cellulose on the Prevention of Protein Haze Formation on White Wine. Beverages. 2021; 7(3):57.

Gago D, Chagas R, Ferreira LM, Velizarov S, Coelhoso I. A Novel Cellulose-Based Polymer for Efficient Removal of Methylene Blue. Membranes. 2020; 10(1):13.


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