Initially I tried a few bottles of the commercial de-alcoholised wines, and while they weren't bad there was a few problems with the issue:
- the range is very limited
- the prices are higher than regular wines
- they don't really taste that good
- I don't need zero alcohol in the wine
Aside from getting drunk, one of the other negative aspects of drinking wine frequently is that alcohol has more energy per mass than sugar (yes, it makes you fat). Dry red wines have less residual sugars anyway, so by reducing the alcohol in the wine I can drink a natural tasty product that is low in calories. Its a win win situation.
Taking the alcohol out of wineStrangely there is little or next to nothing written about this topic on the internet (strangely everyone is on about making alcoholic drinks cheaper ... whacko). So I thought I'd do my little bit (or a couple of Kb) to redress that situation.
Pareto Principle - Getting 80% of the benefits for 20% of the effortInitially I was thinking that I'd go for vacuum distillation, but I thought : "why not give it a go on the stove first". As you probably know alcohol boils at ~78°C (172°F for those of you mired in that strange anachronism by Daniel that I'm sure even he is well and truly over), but as the air pressure goes down it boils at lower temperature (as does water and most other liquids).
Well anyway, back to the stove method, it is not just a matter of raising the temperature to 78°C, because there are a few issues in the chemistry:
- adding anything into the alcohol changes its boiling point a little (raising it)
- getting all the alcohol out is even harder than it would seem(lets not make this a chemistry lesson)
- use the thermometer to determine the temperature accuratel
- raise the temperature to the boiling point then move carefully until I saw it gassing off the alcohol
- cool the wine as rapidly as possible to thus minimise the time at the high temperature.
So with a plan in mind off I went to the shop to buy the cheapest bottle of red plonk I could find, came home and pulled out my trusty thermometer and had a go.
The results surprised me so much that I'm almost given up on the idea of vacuum distillation now.
So for those who are keen to try it at home themselves I'll share my methods.
What you'll need:
- a thermometer that's accurate
- a shallow dish big enough to hold a bottle of wine
- a stove to heat it with
- another pot to tip it into (which for better effect could be whacked in the freezer for a while first)
- a funnel
So to explain a few things seen in that video:
- shallow dish maximiszes the heat transfer and thus minimises the time its needed to be at a higher temperature
- the other pot is cooler thus takes an amount of heat off straight away
- I used an ice-cream maker which was frozen to -20°C to then even more rapidly take it down in temperature
- reduce the heat as soon as it starts steaming off the alcohol and hold it there for a few minutes (I took mine up to 82°C but it started gassing off the alcohol at about 79°C).
- An audible "pre boiling hiss" could be head from the pan just like when boiling water in a kettle.
Drinking the result has shown me that it is much lower in alcohol (about equal to beer) as I can drink half a bottle and hardly feel any alcohol effects (less than were I to drink the same amount of beer). Moreover as I drink the wine more slowly (in a wine glass as if it was wine, not in a big glass as I do beer) I end up drinking my half bottle over a period of some hours.
So now I can have a glass of wine when I get home, have a top up while preparing dinner and a glass with dinner, and perhaps a glass in the evening during a movie and have had less alcohol than a beer.
Even better ... cheap wines actually taste better done this way than they did straight out of the bottle, the process must drive off some other things (sulphates, preservatives ...) that seems to make it less harsh.
win win if you ask me