Why There is Alcohol In Wine and Why We Don’t Need It?

Wine is one of the oldest food product produced by the human being; archaeological finds referred to grapes and wine production in amphorae were found in Georgia, dating back to more than 3000 years ago.

Grape vine was one of the most important plants during the developing of the first civilizations, especially for the Greek one and the Roman Empire. Alcohol was once an important feature of the wine because it helped the humans to protect the product from spoilage. In fact, alcohol has a sterilizing effect.

Then, in the 19th Century the alcohol started to represent an hedonistic pleasure and it is still nowadays. However, we are living in the early days of the non-alcoholic wine, a product that gives us the chance to drink an amazing flavorful drink without the damage caused by the alcohol on the human body. 

Fermentation is the key to producing wine and it represents the only way to create alcohol from a sweet fruit full of sugar. The fermentation process takes place thanks to the yeast, small fungi able to convert sugar in alcohol, heat and CO2. Yeasts are well known organisms that follows the human being from millennia. In fact, yeasts are also needed for cheese, bread and yogurt production.

There are different yeast species, some of them not even produce alcohol, but the one that is most important for wine is Saccaromyces Cerevisiae: these yeast cells are able to easily convert the sugar into alcohol and other by-products, for that reason they are studied and bred from more than two centuries.

Yeasts are particularly important not only because they produce alcohol, but especially because they produce most part of the beautiful aromas and flavors that we can easily recognize in the wine, the fruity and floral ones in particular. That’s the reason why we need to use yeasts also to produce non-alcoholic wines; otherwise, the complex aromatic bouquet of the wine would be undetachable.

Even though it is legally produced all around the world, alcohol is a drug and it causes a lot of problems to the human body. In fact, our body detects the alcohol as a poisoning compound and it tries to process it as soon as possible. The short-term effects are headache, sickness and dizziness. However, there are worse long-term effects like addiction, neurological diseases and cirrhosis. For all this reasons, both governments and doctors are trying to lower the alcohol consumption in the entire world. There are yet some strict laws about alcohol advertisement and some countries decided to own alcohol monopolies, like Sweden and Canada. For all this reasons, non-alcoholic wines are becoming more and more popular in the Western countries, as well as in the Muslim countries where non-alcoholic wine is needed for Halal diet.

Alcohol can be removed by wine using different techniques, the most important wine is reverse osmosis: this simply consists on a machinery that has a membrane filter and it is able to divide the alcohol from the other components of the wine, creating a non-alcoholic final wine that still has all the aromatics found in the standard alcoholic wine. A lot of research is being carried out in this field in order to obtain even better non-alcoholic wines able to display the same aromatic complexity as the alcoholic ones.