Membrane Processing of Grape Must for Control of the Alcohol Content in Fermented Beverages

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Departamento de Tecnologia alimentar, biotecnologia e nutrição. Escola Superior Agraria de Santarem; Instituto Politecnico de Santarem. Santarem. Portugal.

2 Departamento de Engenharia Química. Instituto Superior Técnico. Universidade de Lisboa. 1049-001 Lisboa. Portugal

3 Departamento de Tecnologia Alimentar, Biotecnologia e Nutrição, Instituto Politecnico de Santarem, Escola Superior Agraria, 2001-904 Santarem, Portugal.

4 Departamento de Engenharia Química. Instituto Superior Técnico. Universidade de Lisboa. 1049-001 Lisboa. Portugal.


The great demand of beverages, both alcohol-free and with low alcohol content, is a great challenge for the production of beverages with controlled alcohol content through the use of sustainable enological practices. The present work addresses this challenge with the processing of grape must by reverse osmosis (RO) for must reconstitution with different sugar contents prior to the alcoholic fermentation. The original must came from grapes grown in Quinta do Quinto, in Santarém, collected after destemming and mechanic crushing, and preserved in a refrigerated chamber at -1.6 °C until processing by RO. The RO processing was carried out in Escola Superior Agrária de Santarém, with a pilot plant equipped with RO spiral wound modules, M38RO, from Alfa Laval, Denmark. The total membrane permeation area is 15 m2. The work pressure was 55 bar. The original must had 23.7 oBrix, a density of 1108 g.L-1, 15.2% (v/v) of probable alcohol, and a conductivity of 2.01 The must reconstitution was carried out, by mixing the concentrated grape must with the vegetal water produced by RO (permeate) to obtain beverages with a nominal alcohol content of 5%, 7%, 10% and 13% (v/v). The fermentation average temperature was between 18.2 and 19.7 °C, and the fnal density rounded about 993 The beverages were analysed by different parameters, including total polyphenols, total anthocyanins, colour intensity and hue, the coordinates CIELab, alcohol content, total acidity, volatile acidity, pH, free SO2 and total SO2. The attributes of the beverage, corresponding to the visual appearance, aroma and taste senses, as well as the overall judgment were evaluated by the tasters. The proposed method can produce beverages with controlled low alcohol content. The decrease of the alcohol content led to lower content of polyphenols compounds which influenced the sensory evaluatio.

Graphical Abstract

Membrane Processing of Grape Must for Control of the Alcohol Content in Fermented Beverages


• Grape must was concentrated by RO, during 55 minutes, from 23.7 ºBx to 28.5 ºBx.
• The average permeate flux was 2.12 L.m
• The must reconstitution was carried out to obtain fermented beverages with an
alcohol volume content of 5%, 7%, 10% and 13% (v/v).
• Beverages with low alcohol content had a lower content of polyphenols compounds
which influenced the sensory evaluatio.


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