Do you need to know how to remove alcohol from wine so you can serve that delicious pasta sauce to your non-drinking friends and family?
Want to know if alcohol really cooks out of your recipes?
Maybe you’ve been gifted a bottle and want to cook away the alcohol so you can enjoy it without getting tipsy.
We’ll cover 3 ways to remove alcohol with wine and why you might want to consider springing for a bottle of non-alcoholic wine instead.
How to Remove Alcohol From Wine At Home
To remove alcohol content from a bottle of wine at home, boil the bottle of wine for about 3 hours to remove all the alcohol.
Alcohol is decreased to about 25% after one hour of boiling.
The longer wine is boiled, the more cooked it tastes and the thicker it becomes. Once all alcohol is boiled off, the syrupy concentrate left behind isn’t good for drinking but can be good as a cooking sauce.
3 Methods To Remove Alcohol From Wine
There are actually 3 ways to remove the alcohol from a bottle of wine, but only 1 is accessible to the home cook.
The other 2 methods are used by winemakers to create alcohol-free wine.
If you want to remove the alcohol from the wine, you can do so by boiling the wine.
Boiling wine will evaporate the alcohol, leaving behind the water and other non-alcoholic components of the wine.
The exact amount of time that you need to boil the wine will depend on how much alcohol you want to remove.
For example, if you are trying to remove all the alcohol, you will need to boil the wine for 3 hours, while you can reduce the alcohol to about 25% after one hour.
Additionally, the type of wine that you are boiling will also affect the amount of time that is needed. For instance, red wines generally have more alcohol than white wines.
As such, it will take longer to remove all the alcohol from red wine than it would from white wine.
Ultimately, how long you boil the wine is up to you and will depend on your desired outcome.
Understand that boiling wine will completely change the flavor and aroma of the wine.
It will not taste the same, the texture will be thicker, and the flavors very concentrated and “cooked.” It isn’t really drinkable.
When making a simmered sauce, like a white or red pasta sauce, the simmering will cook off much of the wine’s alcohol, but the alcohol will help to develop more complex flavors in the other ingredients.
Reverse osmosis is a process in which water is passed through a semi-permeable membrane, separating the water from any dissolved solids that may be present.
One application of reverse osmosis is in the removal of alcohol from wine. This is the most common method used by wineries to create alcohol-free wine because the results taste very good.
The wine is pressurized and forced through filters that remove the water and alcohol from the wine (fruit) constituents.
The water is then steam distilled, removing the alcohol, and then the pure water is recombined with the wine constituents, creating an alcohol-free wine.
This method delivers the most genuine wine taste result, but it costs tens of thousands of dollars for a system that can remove the alcohol like this without destroying the flavor.
Vacuum distillation is a process used to remove alcohol from wine and other types of alcoholic beverages.
To carry out this process, the wine or other liquid is placed in a specially designed distillation column, which is placed in a vacuum to reduce evaporation and prevent any loss of alcohol vapors.
Once the vacuum has been established, the wine is heated and warm air is passed through it to raise vapor pressure and drive off the liquid components.
The vaporized alcohol that is produced during this step then travels up through the column until it comes into contact with chilled coils at the top of the chamber, where it condenses back into a liquid form.
Finally, the pure alcohol can be separated from any remaining water or other impurities and collected for further use.
Overall, vacuum distillation is an essential technique for accurately removing alcohol from wine and other spirits, while preserving their unique flavor profiles.
However, the steam distillation does change the flavor of the original wine, but less so than a straight boil.
Wondering what’s the difference between alcohol-free wine and grape juice? Want to know what alcohol-free wine tastes like and how to choose a good one?
Watch this master sommelier explain it all:
Which Method is Best for Removing Alcohol From Wine?
The best method for removing alcohol from wine depends on your personal preferences and how much alcohol you want to remove.
If you are trying to remove all the alcohol, boiling the wine is the most effective method.
However, this method can also change the flavor of the wine, so it is important to consider this before deciding to boil your wine.
If you’ve been gifted a bottle and you want to use it for cooking without the dish tasting boozy, then try boiling off the alcohol.
If you are only trying to remove some alcohol, reverse osmosis or vacuum distillation may be better options, since they will not alter the flavor of the wine as much, but this is cost-prohibitive for home use.
Ultimately, the best choice for using alcohol-free wine is to buy a bottle that has been purified by a winemaker. It will have the best flavor for drinking or cooking.
Does Alcohol Cook Out of Wine in Recipes?
Yes, and no. Some alcohol “burns off” during cooking, but not nearly as much as you’d like to think.
That’s why you can get tipsy off of rum cake or feel boozy from a bourbon cranberry sauce.
The key is how long the food is cooked at the boiling point of alcohol (173F). So, a baked chicken dish with white wine in the sauce is probably going to have very little alcohol.
However, an ice cream recipe that calls for gently heating cream and bourbon or rum in a saucepan before churning could get you in trouble.
Check out this great article from Idaho State University to learn exactly how cooking affects alcohol content in food, and how well different cooking methods burn off the alcohol in a recipe.
Tips for Enjoying Real Wine Without Getting too Tipsy
For guests who don’t drink alcohol but want to toast with you, the courteous thing to do is purchase alcohol-free wine or sparkling cider for them to enjoy.
Wine is easy to overindulge in, making you feel tipsy and giving you a headache later. Here are five tips for enjoying wine without overdoing it.
- Choose a wine that has a lower alcohol content. Some wines have higher alcohol content than others. If you’re looking to avoid alcohol, choose a wine with a lower Alcohol by Volume (ABV).
- Drink plenty of water between glasses of wine. Drinking water will help to keep you hydrated and will also help to prevent you from becoming intoxicated. It also tempers the damaging effects of alcohol on your liver.
- Savor the flavor of the wine and don’t drink it too quickly. If you savor the flavor of the wine, you’ll be less likely to drink too much of it.
- Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Eating food will help to slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream so your liver has less stress to filter the alcohol out.
- If you’re feeling tipsy, stop drinking and switch to water. Continuing to drink alcohol can lead to dangerous levels of intoxication. Drinking water helps your body to metabolize and filter out the alcohol.
By following these tips, you can enjoy all the flavors that wine has to offer without damaging your body with the effects of the alcohol.
Read our related article, Why Does Wine Make Me Sleepy? for a closer look at alcohol’s affect on our bodies!
Purchasing alcohol-free wine is the best way to enjoy the fruit of the vine without the bad side effects of alcohol.
However, if you want to get rid of the alcohol in a bottle you have, boiling is the only affordable option unless you already have a reverse osmosis system and steam distiller for wine.