This year, too, we have witnessed the harvesting of grapes with an excessive sugar content in the musts and, as a result, the production of wines with high alcohol contents. It is clear that temperate wine-growing regions have seen this trend in recent decades. The primary factor influencing this trend is global warming, which is very evident in viticulture and the agricultural sector in general.
We could work on an agronomic-viticultural level with early harvests, but for a full expression of the wines it is necessary to search for phenolic and aromatic maturity, which can only be obtained when the sugar concentration in the grapes is high.
Increasingly we have wines with an alcohol content of over 15% v/v, and this alcohol content leads to a sensory imbalance in our wines. From the consumer's point of view, this imbalance can discourage the choice of the bottle.
Table 1 - Examples of the degree of alcohol removal allowed (EC Reg. 934/2019)
It should also be emphasised that wines with a high alcohol content also have a negative impact on the end consumer in terms of calories. In fact, the trend in recent years has been to pay close attention to low-calorie foods and drinks, a fact that is already widespread abroad on wine labels.
In some countries, moreover, the alcohol level determines the payment of heavy excise duties on the export of drinks.
For these reasons, it is becoming increasingly important to produce wines that are balanced in terms of aroma and composition, with alcohol levels acceptable to the consumer. To produce wines with these characteristics, one possibility is to reduce the level of ethanol in the wine.
Today, EU regulations allow a reduction of up to 20% of the initial alcohol content (EC Reg. 934/2019).
Mastermind® Remove JUCLAS
The removal of alcohol in wine using JUCLAS Mastermind® Remove is the most efficient technique, while respecting its identity.
With Mastermind® Remove, it is possible to lower the amount of alcohol in a wine without interfering with the original colour, structure and aromatic character, using a patented process (No. 0001387862). This is a gentle treatment of the wine, carried out at room pressure and temperature, by passing the wine over contactor membranes, where there is a hydrophobic interface that allows the passage of alcohol in gaseous form to the extracting part.
The patent relates to the separation process involving contact between the wine and an extraction solvent, which in this case is water; the permeation of the alcohol through the membrane occurs by a physical phenomenon called perextraction.
The use of perextraction technology makes it possible to obtain wines with lower alcohol contents without altering their initial organoleptic characteristics. Years of studies and research have shown how a rebalancing of the alcohol content of wine gives rise to greater expressiveness.
Mastermind® Remove ensures well-defined hourly flow rates of extracted ethanol that depend on the processing temperature, the quantity of extraction solvent (water) and the surface of the membrane used: through the DEHALOCOLIZard predictive model it is possible to establish the times and consumption of solvent (water) required for treatment.
Mastermind® Remove is available in models with 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 litres/hour of extracted alcohol. Mastermind® Remove 1, a model that can also be used in the laboratory, has been developed to treat small masses or for indicative tests.
As an example, the parameters involved in reducing the initial alcohol content from 15.5°Alc. to 13.8°Alc. are described below.
Figure 1 - JUCLAS programme to define the parameters involved in the reduction of 1.7°Alc. on a hypothetical wine at 15.5°Alc with a Mastermind® Remove 20 system.
It can be seen that the JUCLAS DEHALOCOLIZard programme contains all the treatment parameters on a single screen (Figure 1). For simplicity of description, a mass of 50 hL at a temperature of 20°C has been taken into account.
With the Mastermind® Remove 20 system, a 50 hL tank of wine in the operating conditions indicated, in less than three and a half hours it is possible to carry out the hypothesised treatment. Please note that water is used as the exchange driver: the speed of alcohol removal in the perextraction technique is dependent on the temperatures of the two process liquids.
Applications and possible new scenarios
Mastermind® Remove allows to bring back the alcohol content of wines to values more in line with the current consumption trend, with a membrane technique covered by patent (nr. 0001387862) that acts in conditions of pressure and room temperature.
Because of these characteristics, it is a technique that can be applied to the fining of quality wines, in the search for the "sweet spot", i.e. the presence of alcohol most suited to the best expressiveness of each wine. In other words: "the right alcohol for each wine", overcoming the generic qualitative image of a wine with a high alcohol content, to give space to a broader idea of quality.
With Mastermind® Remove, even very high levels of alcohol reduction can be achieved under well-defined conditions
Alessandro Angilella Direttore generale JUCLAS
Marco Marconi Head of R&D JUCLAS
Francesco Lonardi R&D JUCLAS
Gianmaria Zanella Responsabile R&D VASONGROUP
Enrico D'Andrea Technical Communication Manager VASONGROUP