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South African de-alcoholised wines

by | May 3, 2024 | Oenology

Project title:
South African de-alcoholised wines

Project number:

Project leader:
Prof Wessel du Toit

South African Grape and Wine Research Institute (SAGWRI), Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Stellenbosch University

Start date:

Project description:
De-alcoholised (de-alc) wines are a new and growing wine category worldwide. Discussions with de-alc wine producers in the industry revealed a need for more knowledge on the production of this category of wine.

Most de-alc wines are produced in South Africa via spinning cone column technology (SCC). However, very little peer-reviewed research is available on the chemical and sensorial composition of de-alc wines produced by SCC. During de-alcoholisation, the sensorial quality of the product decreases due to a decrease in the complexity of the aroma, taste, and mouthfeel.  To restore the aromatic quality of the de-alcoholised wine, a portion of the fraction containing aromatic compounds (called the essence in SCC), which was removed during de-alcoholisation, is added back. Industry interaction revealed the need to understand the composition of this essence better.

Additives such as sugars and tannins are added to the final de-alc wine to restore the mouthfeel properties. Adjustments after alcohol removal have not been well-studied and can affect colour and microbial stability.

The industry also felt a need to benchmark SA de-alc wines with international wines and gain more knowledge on how to produce wines that can successfully compete with their counterparts internationally. More consumer studies were also required.

This project has three main goals:

  1. To compare SA de-alc wines with their international counterparts regarding quality, sensorial and chemical composition.
  2. To assess the effects of the full-strength base wine and mouthfeel additions on the final de-alc wine’s quality and composition and how these wines develop during bottle ageing.
  3. To investigate actions required to ensure microbial and chemical stability of de-alc wines over time.


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