Is there glycerol in wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is there glycerin in wine?

—Timothy, Atlanta

Dear Timothy,

Glycerol (also known as glycerin and glycerine) is a non-toxic byproduct of fermentation, and a trace amount is present in most wines. Glycerin is a viscous, colorless and odorless liquid and gives wine a fuller, more pleasant texture. There’s also a slight sweetness to glycerin, which is considered a positive, as it’s able to help smooth a wine’s harshness.

The type of wine grape, how ripe it is and what kind of yeast it's fermented with can all impact how much glycerol a wine has. Temperature and nitrogen levels can also have an effect. Glycerol is also available to home winemakers as an additive to increase viscosity and sweetness. According to the TTB, however, it is not legal to add additional glycerol to commercial wine.

Other alcohol products might allow limited amounts of added glycerol, and it’s used as a sweetener in dairy products, sweets, jams and energy bars. It can also be added as a food thickener, or to keep food moist.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Winemaking Techniques Explained

More In Dr. Vinny

What is “reverse osmosis” in relation to wine? How and why is it used?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the science (and the motivation) behind the …

Nov 28, 2022

I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice on selecting wines for the Thanksgiving …

Nov 21, 2022

What is a “second wine”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the "second wine" concept and what it means in …

Nov 14, 2022

Is it bad if an old bottle of wine has sediment in it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that sediment happens—and how to deal with it.

Nov 7, 2022

Is it OK to change my mind about a wine after I've approved a sommelier to serve it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that there's a reason that sommeliers show …

Oct 31, 2022

How should I organize a tasting of 4 wines paired with 4 chocolates?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny offers suggestions for organizing food and …

Oct 24, 2022