Wine fermentation tanks

Low-alcohol wines

How can Chr. Hansen’s know-how in fermentation help deliver low-alcohol wines?

Consumer demand for more digestible, low-alcohol wines is growing, but global warming is making the task harder!

Global warming is clearly raising the sugar concentration of grapes: the higher the number of warm, and sunny days, the higher the sugar concentration in grape, which has with one final consequence: more alcohol in the final wine. Alcohols, particularly ethanol, are produced by yeasts converting sugars into ethanol and many other things (flavors for instance) as soon as the grapes are crushed.

Today, we can identify two types of demands regarding lowering the alcohol content in wines: 

  • Lowering alcohol in wines containing 13 to 15% alcohol by 1.5 to 2.0% and therefore resulting in containing an alcohol maximum of 11% to 13% 
  • Developing wines with a 9 to 11% alcohol content.

These two categories of products, despite both representing lower-alcohol alternatives, are radically different.

On one hand, consumer demand is focused on a limited, alcohol reduction that would bring the level of alcohol to a maximum value between 11 and 13% without affecting the wine’s sensorial properties. Technically, it involves removing alcohol or not producing the same amount of alcohol per liter of wine, which is not an easy task if one aims at retaining the same organoleptic qualities.

The second category requires more ‘product development’ to get an ideal, final wine with a balanced flavor, no residual sugar, enough body to be easily identified by consumers as being a wine, yet with a low level of alcohol from the very beginning, i.e., even at the time the grapes were harvested and crushed.

VINIFLORA® specialty yeasts and bacteria can help develop wines in both these product categories. Picking the grapes earlier in the season, when they have a lower level of sugars, is an excellent way of reducing alcohol content in wines. Chr. Hansen’s expertise in fermentation management can help in designing global solutions for lower alcohol yet full-of-taste products!

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