Wine and Sucrose
Red, white, or rosé. Dry or sweet. Fruity or earthy.
There are so many options when it comes to selecting wine. The selection process of wine or other alcohol is something to think about, especially if you have Sucrose Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID). CSID is the reduced ability to digest certain foods that contain sucrose or starch. The symptoms of CSID vary and can range from gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and even constipation.
When choosing wine, it is important to consider where the sweetness of the wine comes from. The sweetness of wine does in fact come from sucrose! Specifically, the disaccharide sucrose exists within the grapevine. A disaccharide is a combination of two monosaccharides, or simple sugars, bonded together. Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose bonded together. The good news is that during the ripening process of the grapes, as well as the fermentation process of the wine, sucrose is broken down into single molecules of glucose or fructose.
During the ripening of grapes on the vine, some sucrose molecules are naturally separated by an enzyme to form the two monosaccharides glucose and fructose. While a small amount of sucrose remains at the time of harvesting the grapes, some of the sugars within the grapes are already broken down.
Sugars, including sucrose, glucose, and fructose, are an essential component in the process of alcoholic fermentation. While alcoholic fermentation is a pretty complex process, the basics are that yeasts converts the aforementioned sugars to ethanol (alcohol), carbon dioxide, and other byproducts. So, fermentation of sugars is actually how alcohol is formed in wine.
Some manufacturers add sucrose back into their wine after processing to improve flavor, mouth feel, or even alcoholic content. When sucrose is added to increase alcoholic content, the yeast will still metabolize the sucrose, leaving very little sucrose in the wine that makes it on the shelf. This process is known as chaptalization.
There is one exception to the general rule that wine does not contain sucrose: champagne and sparkling wines. The addition of liqueur d’expédition or dosage is the last step before the final corking of many champagnes and sparkling wines. Dosage is the cane sugar or beet sugar that is added to the champagne or sparkling wine right before corking the bottle. The yeast inside the bottle will still ferment the sugar and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. Most of the added sucrose will be metabolized by the yeast. However, because the bottle is corked, the gas cannot escape, thus causing pressure to build up until the cork is finally released.
While most still and sparkling wines are not loaded with sucrose, it is important to remember that any type of alcohol can cause some gut irritation. Abdominal pain, nausea, and even diarrhea can be caused by the effects of alcohol. Regardless of a CSID diagnosis, the CDC recommends sticking to a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. It is recommended that drinking less is better for overall health.
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