What Is The Wine Industry Doing To Control Alcohol Levels In Wine?

This is a story about a company named ConeTech and its creator, Mr. Anthony Dann. What ConeTech does is correct the alcohol level in wine without undermining aromas and taste. However, allow me to take a step back please bear with me since I am a fan of “adjusting quit drinking in wine” in an effort to generate wine more enjoyable and simple on the mind.

Are the alcohol levels in wine getting a bit out of hand, especially when we realize it is possible for wine alcohol content to be 16%? Is a 16% alcohol degree giving the wine consumer worth? Many people like the flavors in wine that enhance the pleasure of a meal ; but are 16 percent over the top? Other people say that they just want a balance of aromas and flavor profiles in a wine. A lot of us simply enjoy a glass of wine by itself as a opportunity to enjoy flavors and scents. Well, if you usually agree with all the above then you are probably getting more mindful of exactly what high alcohol levels are doing to affect your enjoyment of wine.

I started drinking wine in the 1960’s while at college. At that point I clearly remember the alcohol in wine was approximately 11 percent and also pizza it was wonderful. Fast forward to now. At a recent wine tasting I noticed that a lot of the reds being poured were tagged at 15% alcohol. By legal criteria that signifies alcohol content might be as large as 16.5 percent and still be within label demands. Accordingly, within a 25 year interval alcohol material in U.S. wine has risen approximately 40%. European winemakers are also right up there with U.S. winemakers comparative to alcohol in wine.

So the question now is: What has precipitated winemakers to make wine with high levels of alcohol? There seem to be three reasons. First, climate change in wine growing areas, especially in California, has changed the harvest. Then, as temperatures increase, the chemical process which occurs on the vines brings on higher sugar levels in the fruit. And, it is the yeast functioning on the sugars that bring on greater alcohol. Related to the first point which currently brings us to the next point; fruit which remains on the vine also intensifies flavors and tannins. This helps eliminate the green tastes in underdeveloped fruit. Lastly, ultimately the wine is at the control of God and the winemaker. It’s the winemaker that chooses the yeast profiles, fermentation and the mixtures. Yeast is becoming a bigger factor as yeast manufacturers do more and more research on yeasts and their idiosyncrasies in winemaking.

A winemaker friend reminds me that higher alcohol wine provides more intense flavors/full body. Further, decreasing alcohol levels then compels a winemaker to do a delicate balancing act. The ultimate goal is preserving the chemistry profiles/taste consistency of the wines from season to season so that their customers can rely on the wine attributes and characteristics.

Bear in mind, like most things in life that are man-made; it is a balancing act between compromises. Without alcohol there is no wine. Laura Gray wrote in 2011, “Alcohol affects the taste, texture and structure of a wine.

Personally, I do not like high levels of alcohol. Here is why:

Ethanol can mask aromas and taste of wine; it becomes a sexy wine.
I am limited by how much I can consume as a matter of civility and coherent speech.
High alcohol can accentuate the feeling of sweetness in wine-I do not like sweetness.
We have observed alcohol content in wine increase. That isn’t a bad thing if stored in balance and not in excess. But what happens when wine achieves a higher alcohol level naturally or it’s likely to come-in using a high brix level, then how can it be corrected? Legally, there appears to be three procedures; two mechanical procedures and two organic. The natural processes involve vineyard management procedures and tweaking fermentation with different yeasts that feed on the sugars.

The mechanical procedures include two technologies: spinning cone and reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis we’re generally familiar with because most homes use the procedure to remove certain chemicals and minerals out of drinking water. The other, somewhat newer technology is turning cone.

I recently was meeting a buddy in the cork industry in Santa Rosa and we got into a discussion about ‘hot’ wines. He remarked that a friend of his worked at the lab at a sizable premium winery and noted that from time to time tasting extremely large alcohol wines fried sensory perceptions of their wine. He then mentioned Mr. Tony Dann and his work in founding a company (ConeTech) at Santa Rosa which used a 20 year old technologies produced in Australia that corrects alcohol in wine.

I was intrigued that anybody would dare play a delicate operation on a living thing as precious as wine. One afternoon this idea was verbalized upon assembly Tony Dann for the first time, I could tell he was a bit tweaked by my bringing so much ignorance to the dialogue. “Depending on the fermented wine we receive, what the winemaker wants to achieve, and the winery’s historic brand profile; sometimes technological intervention is appropriate if it in no way injures the integrity of the wine,” said Mr. Dann. “What we give our customers is: absolute confidentiality, our respect in approaching the winemakers’ original creative objectives, the best process understood, and an expertise that’s as much about winemaking as about technology. Simply put, we don’t mess around with the serious business of wine.”