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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Do any winemakers use cold distillation to remove alcohol from finished wines?
—Ananda K., United Arab Emirates
As someone who lived through the “ice beer” trend several years back, I can tell you confidently that cold distillation would actually raise the alcohol level of a wine, not lower it. The idea behind cold distillation is that as the temperature drops, water freezes before alcohol, so it’s easy to remove the water and make a more concentrated, higher-alcohol beverage.
You may have heard of ice wine, where frozen grapes are picked and crushed, resulting in concentrated and sweet wines. While I’m sure it’s possible that some winemakers might be experimenting with these techniques with finished wines, it’s not widespread. But quite a few wines go through the not-quite-freezing process of cold stabilization to remove harmless tartrates.
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