Distilling wine is an art as old as time…and shaped by time itself. The Greeks and Romans did it centuries ago, and the practice continues unabated today. Wine distillation is a process that increases the “alcohol purity” of wine, more aptly referred to as the “alcohol-proof” rating, and is measured in percentage ratings. Distilling wine is a far more challenging than easy exercise, and will take some time to gain experience and master the art.


Things You'll Need


Getting Started

Put approximately 2 to 3 qt. of fermented grape wine into an airtight copper vat boiler.

Heat the copper vat boiler at high temperature, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, using an electrical or gas heating system. As a more traditional alternative, use a wood fire source. Although optional, you may use a submersible thermometer to measure the temperature of the heated contents (fermented wine) in the copper vat boiler.

Stand by while the following stages of the wine distillation process occur.

As the fermented grape pulp is heated, the liquid (juice) it contains will vaporize. The vapors will then rise and pass through an angular (swanlike) pipe fitted to the copper vat boiler.

The vapors will now pass through a coil-type pipe system fitted to another copper vat (condenser) that has been filled with water. The purpose of this condenser is to cool the coil pipe within which the vapors are formed.

Due to the cooling action of the condenser, the vapors will condense and subsequently liquefy. This (liquefied) end product is the distilled wine.

Use a wooden wine collection vat (or copper vat) to collect the distilled wine. Make sure the vat is equipped with an airtight cover/lid. Store the distilled wine in a cool, dry place.

Measure the alcohol content of the distilled wine. Most modern wine distillation systems come with a “proof hydrometer”–a unit which provides a precise measurement of the alcohol content (strength) of the wine distilled.

Repeat the wine distillation process at least twice to obtain the desired alcohol strength.

Tips

  • Fermented apple, pear, orange and certain other fruit wines can also be distilled using the above process.

  • The alcohol purity (strength) of the wine will increase the more you repeat the distillation process.

  • Copper vat boilers are recommended for heating fermented wine as they have the ability to eliminate sulfurous odors and fumes more effectively than all other metal vats.

References and Resources

Wine and Spirits
How a Still Works