Analysis Request – Low/de-alcoholised and Zero % alcohol wines
“Non-alcoholic”, “De-alcoholised”, “Alcohol-free” – with this growing trend in South Africa consumers are exposed to various alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages. All of which contain less than 0.5% alcohol but are produced using vastly different techniques, with only non-alcoholic and de-alcoholised wines having undergone the fermentation process. Alcohol-free wines, however, have never undergone a fermentation process and will, therefore, not have the same flavour profile as wines containing alcohol. Producing these alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages provides winemakers with various additional challenges – making testing at every stage essential.
As de-alcoholised, and many low-alcohol, wines start as a fully fermented wine before having its alcohol removed the fermentation process is important. Chemical parameters such as volatile acidity, residual sugar, ethanol, pH, titratable acidity, and malolactic fermentation should, therefore, be monitored as you would in traditional winemaking. In the finished product, alcohol would naturally be the most essential chemical parameter.
Consumers seek a wine-alternative containing as many characteristics as possible to traditional wine, with the body, mouthfeel and aroma being preserved once alcohol is removed. The fermentation process is, therefore, important. Chemical parameters listed above aid in monitoring fermentations. Alcohol content becomes essential for labelling requirements, with low-alcohol, de-alcoholised and no-alcohol wines having maximum allowable limits.
As with wine testing requirements depend on where you are in the winemaking process. Tests used to monitor the progress of fermentation should occur throughout the fermentation process. After removal of alcohol, either through vacuum distillation, reverse osmosis or spinning cone columns testing the above-mentioned quality parameters is recommended.
Tests performed to monitor fermentations should take place as frequently as possible. Once wines are stable and bottle ready monthly quality checks of the volatile acidity, pH and sulphur can take place. For de-alcoholised wines testing of various chemical parameters can take place both before and after the removal of alcohol.
Everyone involved in both the winemaking process as well as the de-alcoholisation process should know and understand which chemical parameters should be tested when and have the insight to use this.