Potassium Polyspartate becomes a Legal Wine Additive
February 14, 2020
Potassium polyspartate is a promising wine additive that forestalls the formation of potassium tartrate crystals. I’ve never used it myself so I can’t personally vouch for its efficacy as a treatment. The vendors and other proponents of its use like to tout that potassium polyspartate can achieve result similar to a traditional cold stabilization while using only a minute fraction of the energy it takes to chill a wine and keep it near freezing for the time required to precipitate potassium tartrate out of solution. That certainly sounds promising.
I haven’t said much about potassium polyspartate and its use to make wines more resistant to the precipitation of potassium tartrate mainly because it was not approved by the TTB for use in wine production until a few days ago. I am cautious about discussing any additives that aren’t included in part 24 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR part 24) simply because most of my readers are winemakers in the United States. Even if something can be legally added to wine produced in Europe doesn’t mean that it is legal to do so for wine produced in the United States, even if the US does allow the importation of wines containing said additive.
In the particular case of potassium polyspartate, once the European Union approved its use, it was fairly easy for US wineries to be granted a variance to “experiment” with the additive provided they did so, and received the appropriate approval from the TTB before they started using it. Still that additional bureaucratic hurdle was a step that someone simply reading about how it can make wines “cold stable” might not appreciate unless the story put particular emphasis on that fact.
The most recent Unified Wine and Grape Symposium had a session on tartrate stability that is worth a listen. Readers can purchase a recording of the session from All Star Media (http://www.allstartapes.com/unified-wine-grape-symposium-2020/). The session is number 2402-9 “Potassium Tartrate Stability: Strategies for Stabilizing Potassium Tartrate Salts in White, Red & Rosé Wines.”
The official European study into the safety of potassium polyspartate in wine production (it was found to be safe) was published in the European Food Safety Authority Journal (Open Access) which can be found here.
A press release from Enartis USA regarding the change of regulations can be found here.
Enartis, and their parent company Esseco, also participated in an evaluation of the (non) toxicity of potassium polyspartate the results of which were published in Food and Chemical Toxicology and can be found here.