Can I remove the alcohol content of wine by boiling it?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How long do you have to boil wine to remove the alcohol content? My daughter is pregnant, and we can’t find a non-alcoholic wine that suits her, so thought maybe if I boiled one of her favorites to remove most of the alcohol, it might give her an alternative she can live with?

—Maryann, Warren, Mich.

Dear Maryann,

I appreciate how much you want to help your daughter out, but she should talk to her doctor about whether or not she should be drinking wine, regardless of whether or not you’ve boiled it. There are many concerns about consuming alcohol while pregnant, and her doctor will be able to advise her best.

As far as how long it takes to remove alcohol from wine by applying heat, even dishes containing wine that are cooked for hours will still contain small amounts of alcohol. The USDA has specific guidelines on alcohol retention in prepared foods.

But a wine that’s been boiled for hours isn’t going to taste at all like it did before you boiled it. The fresh fruit flavors will turn “cooked” tasting, and the wine will also get a little more syrupy, and while it would make a fabulous braising liquid for short ribs, I don’t think it will be something that anyone would like to drink.

Commercially made alcohol-free wine is usually made by the process of distillation. But before you consider investing in a still, consider that even this process can’t completely eliminate alcohol. How about offering your daughter a glass of juice or sparkling water instead? There are even some wineries, such as Navarro and Castello di Amorosa, that sell unfermented grape juice made from wine grapes.

—Dr. Vinny

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