Making wine is a biological process. Live yeast is added to grape juice to digest the juice’s sugar, resulting in the production of alcohol. The amount of alcohol produced depends on the initial sugar content of the juice. However, the fermentation stops when the alcohol concentration reaches about eighteen percent, as the yeast becomes toxic to itself.
Brandy starts as wine but undergoes distillation to increase its alcohol concentration to forty or fifty percent, which is significantly higher than the level that would kill yeast.
To understand how distillation works, imagine steam from a kettle hitting a cold windowpane, where it condenses and drips off. The liquid dripping off is known as “distilled water,” which is different from tap water because it no longer contains salts and minerals with higher boiling points that were left behind during the steam conversion in the kettle.
ACE Beer Brewing Equipment
Wine And Alcohol
Wine consists of approximately one part alcohol to five parts water. However, the boiling point of alcohol is only 173 degrees Fahrenheit, 39 degrees lower than the boiling point of water.
Therefore, by heating wine to just over 173 degrees, the alcohol can be distilled into brandy while the water remains in a liquid state.
ACE Alcohol Distillation Equipment
Legal Or Illegal?
The steam, which mainly consists of alcohol, is then passed through cold tubing where it condenses and drips into a container.
Although the water does not actually boil, some water vaporizes along with the alcohol, which is why even the strongest liquor is not pure alcohol. However, most of the water is left behind. Making wine is a biological process that is legal in most states. However, removing water to produce brandy is considered a federal offense.