Chaptalization

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Chaptalization is the process of introducing sugar to unfermented grape must in order to increase a wine’s alcohol content after fermentation. This procedure is named after its developer, the French chemist Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal. Chaptalization is not intended to make the wine sweeter or give it added residual sugar, but rather to provide a higher sugar content for the yeast to ferment into alcohol. Yeasts in the wine are alive and need to eat. They love eating sugar and this is how the yeasts survive. That’s why many vintners will tell you that wine is alive…

Chaptalization has generated controversy and discontent in the French wine industry due to advantages that the process is believed to give producers in areas with poor climates. In rebuttal to savage demonstrations by protesters in 1907, the French government created regulations on the amount of sugar that can be added to wine. Chaptalization is sometimes referred to as enrichment… This procedure is used a lot in the making of French Champagne. Since the Champagne Region (north of Paris) is at a latitude where there are less sunny days and more cloudy, cooler days the grapes ripen less and produce less sugar to give enough alcohol content to this white sparkling wine. Also, champagne would be really imbalanced with high acidity overpowering the fruit forwardness of the wine if it were not for the process of chaptalization…

Categories: Wine Wisdom

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