The most common misconception is that wine with low alcohol is nothing more than wine in an elegant bottle. This isn’t actually the situation! These are wines that have all the complexities, tastes, and qualities of a premium wine but that have cleverly removed alcohol from them during the production process. To be considered low alcohol in the UK, the wine must be able to achieve a minimum ABV of 0.5 1.2% – 1.2 percentage. This is achieved through various methods. This article will provide some of the more advanced and scientific methods that winemakers use to bring this ABV amount lower.
In order to make a wine that is extremely low in alcohol amount, the process begins similar to the method used for normal wine production. The winemaker collects the grapes that they’d like to make into this blend. They crush them into the form of juice; then the wine is fermented in a tank that will transform the natural sugars in this fruit into alcohol. The process is different based on the type of wine that is being produced, whether white or red (take an examination of How Red Wine Made vs. How White Wine Made to learn more about the process); however, the final product is the same, in essence, an alcohol-based wine.
Extracting water and Alcohol by Reverse Osmosis
This is where the process becomes quite technical! Instead of being bottled or transferred to barrels for aging, the wine needs to go through additional steps within the winery to get rid of the alcohol. The wine is put into the Reverse Osmosis system, which in plain English means a device that separates the elements that comprise the liquid. In the process of making wine, it is utilized to separate water and alcohol from wine. An entirely new flow of fluid containing only alcohol and water, also known as the “permeate,” is made and then is then pumped out of the tank.
Removing Alcohol in Column Stills
The “permeate” can be piped to column stills in which the alcohol will be removed from the liquid by heating (a process referred to as distillation). Here’s the scientific part! Ethanol is boiling at 78.3degC, which is a lower threshold than the boiling points of water. Thus, by heating the “permeate ” to 78.3degC, the alcohol is evaporated and rises in the column to where it’s then gathered and set aside. What the winemaker ends up with is basically water.
Creating the Final Blend
After the water has cooled and cooled, it’s then returned to the wine. The product is a wine that is a blend of everything a normal wine has – the gorgeous aromas, delicious flavors, as well as the texture and character, but without the alcohol!
The winemaker can now put the bottle on sale with a tag stating that it is low alcohol in the event that sufficient alcohol was removed so that there is only 1.2 percent ABV at or below the finished product. Even though a wine that has a small ABV of this magnitude is often regarded to be non-alcoholic, the wine will not count as ‘alcohol-free.’
It is a more simple and quicker method to remove alcohol from wine. It follows the same concept of using heat to remove the alcohol. Similar to Method 1, the winemaker begins with the production of wine using the traditional method. This involves taking grape juice and putting it in a fermenter that contains yeast, which initiates reactions that convert the sugars from the fruit into alcohol. When the fermentation process is completed, the winemaker is left with a wine that ranges from 11 to 14.5 percent ABV.
Instead of segregating every component of the wine prior to using any heating in this method, the base wine is kept warm. The wine is heated up to 78.3degC, which is the temperature at which ethanol reaches boiling point and the alcohol evaporates from the mix. The wine is then gathered and set aside, leaving a wine that has very little or no alcohol whatsoever.
(Although the wine does not boil however, some winemakers are uncomfortable about heating their wine to this level because they believe it could alter the aroma of the wine. Therefore, even though Method 2 could be quicker and less expensive, they go instead for Method One.)
After the wine is cool, it is then able to be stored. The winemaker can now declare that it is a low-alcohol wine in the bottle, provided that the final blend is bottled with an ABV value of 1.2 or less. Also, unless the ABV is lower than zero (or just a little bit more than that), the wine will not be regarded as an alcohol-free wine.
How is Lower Alcohol Wine Made?
If it weren’t difficult enough for you to understand what is an alcoholic wine or an alcohol-free one, there’s an additional way of making wine that produces wines with lower levels of alcohol. We call them inferior wine with less alcohol at VW because they usually have a range of 5.5 10 – 10 percent ABV. They are too much to qualify as low alcohol. However, they are significantly lower than regular wine. In contrast to the method used for wines with low ABV wines, in which additional steps are added at the conclusion of the winemaking process to eliminate alcohol from the wine, the procedure of making these wines with lower alcohol begins at the vineyard.
Picking Unripe Grapes
A ripe, juicy, and juicier grape will be filled with natural sugars. It’s the sugars in these grapes that turn into alcohol in the process of making wine. Therefore, in order to make an alcohol-free wine with a lower alcohol level than other wines (without using any magic within the winery), the winemaker has to choose grapes with less sugar. They could be unripe grapes that aren’t getting enough exposure to sunlight to make sweetness, or they could be grapes that come from vines with leaves removed to reduce the plant’s ability to produce sugar.
So, using an amount of calculation (and an oath of faith), the winemaker selects the date for harvesting the grapes, with the hopes that the sugar levels in the grapes that are not yet fully developed are just right for the moment.
The wine is produced normally. However, the fact that fruit that isn’t ripe was used in the process means there’s a lot less sugar that will ferment into alcohol than it normally would be. Typically, when fermentation occurs, yeast is employed to convert all sugar in the fruit into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which results in a wine that ranges between 11 to 14.5 percent ABV. In this case, the process of fermentation is faster because of the absence of sweetness in juice, which could result in the wine having an ABV that is as low as 5.5 percent.
Certain winemakers might also opt to use a non-ethanol-producing yeast to reduce the production of alcohol even more.
The winemaker may bottle their wine and proudly list the ABV amount they’ve achieved in the bottle. They can’t say that their wine is low alcohol; however, if you’re equipped by the fact that the average wine will have more than 11%, it’s possible to find one of these lower ABV and guilt-free wines just by looking at the label.