(U.S. Patent No.08/218,920)
Alcohol Fine Tuning
Vinovation offers a service which adjusts the alcohol content of wine in bulk. This gentle, economical method opens up a range of previously unavailable winemaking options, allowing winemakers to harvest grapes based on flavor characteristics, independent of brix.
Premium wine production is hampered in cool climates by ripening difficulties and by rain. Conversely, California winemakers often observe that grapes achieve optimum flavor maturity at elevated sugar levels. In order to obtain Chardonnays of maximum richness, sparkling cuvees with proper acidity, or Cabernets and Zinfandels possessing rich, soft tannins, elevated alcohol levels must be tolerated.
Vinovation's two-step process overcomes these constraints, allowing the winemaker complete control of alcohol content independent of grape flavor maturity. Reverse osmosis filtration separates out from bulk wine a "permeate" stream which is nearly pure water/alcohol, containing no color or flavors. The alcohol and water can then safely be separated by continuous distillation without adverse effects on flavor. By recombining in-line either the water or the alcohol back into the wine, the system removes whichever the wine requires. In both cases, flavors become concentrated slightly in the resulting wine.
The following diagram depicts the process.
Wine in bulk (1) is recirculated under pressure against a reverse osmosis membrane (4), which only allows passage of very small compounds, chiefly water and ethanol, into the permeate (6). Color, flavor, and acids such as tartaric and malic remain in the recirculated wine retentate (5). Permeate (6) containing ethanol and water is introduced into a continuous distillation column (7), where it is separated into an alcohol distillate of approximately 1800 proof (11) and a pure water residue (9). The pure water stream is then recombined with the retentate, thereby decreasing the alcohol in the treated wine. The diagram shows removal of the ethanol stream and recombination of the water stream, which would result in a decrease in alcohol content.
Vinovation also offers custom-built equipment to enable this and other reverse osmosis applications to be conducted on the premises of any Distilled Spirits Plant licensee.
FAQ for Alcohol Fine Tuning
Since even small differences in alcohol content can have a large impact on aroma and texture, Vinovation offers the capability of tasting while your wine is being treated, which allows the winemaker to examine wine characteristics at 0.1% intervals to choose the wine of the best balance for the desired style. These "sweet spot" tastings remove the guesswork from discovering the best alcohol level for your wine.
Vinovationís technique also is more economical and results in less wine loss than other methods.
Do I have to bring the wine to Vinovation or can it be done at my winery?
All alcohol adjustment needs to take place under a federal Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) bond. Unless you have such a bond, you will need to transport your wine to Vinovationís Sebastopol facility. If your wine is "Estate Bottled" you will lose this designation by shipping to Vinovation so you may want to look into getting your own DSP.
Can I treat just a portion of the wine and blend back?
Yes. Typically you can treat about 25% of the wine and blend this low alcohol portion back into your wine to reduce the alcohol to the desired level.
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