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ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Do any winemakers use cold distillation to remove alcohol from finished wines?

—Ananda K., United Arab Emirates

Dear Ananda,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

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