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TechTalk: Photopurification of wine with UV Technology

Posted: Wednesday, 20 April 2011 14:12

TechTalk: Photopurification of wine with UV Technology

A Swiss technology using ultra violet light energy for liquid purification in wine making, known as photopurification technology is gaining momentum, with many winemakers having used the system from a company called SurePure, resulting in less harmful chemical intervention and decreasing the need to add sulphur and other disinfectant additives, making it a potential alternative for wine purification in India as well.

Developed primarily for the dairy and fruit juice industry, it has found recent use in beer and wine industry as well. For the first time in the history of brewing industry, SAB has used this UV photo-sterilisation technology that uses light instead of heat to purify the raw ingredients for its alcoholic fruit juices and beverages. According to the company, SAB has already achieved 82% in energy savings over the previous pasteurization process and is looking for a potential savings of 94%.

It offers solutions to common micro-biological problems in the cellar. The micro biological process results in reduction of sulphur, helps reduce pinking of white wines, reduces the problem of Bretts infestation and helps in avoiding problems related due to stuck fermentation.

The process differs from the traditional wine filtration methods in that it replaces, or can act as an adjunct to many other common processes. It can replace sterile filtration, which strips colour and flavour from wine and can add significantly to wine loss. Photopurification also allows for less chemical intervention, either with sulphur, or other substances such as di-methyl-di-carbonate (DMDC). This also has a positive impact on the environment. According to the company, focusing on reducing sulphur content also serves to ensure a more sustainable and less environmentally invasive approach to wine-making.

The technology is finding many users experimenting with it recently and already showing positive results according to a report. Johan Jordaan, Winemaker at Spier Wines in South Africa, has used the technology in 2009 and 2010 vintages. “Initially I had used the technology to treat wines that suffered from stuck fermentations prior to restarting them,” he says reportedly. “This wine was passed through the SurePure unit once and without being filtered. The VA (volatile acidity) of this wine was stable and after the successful re-ferment, the wine had no sluggish or stuck ferment smells. I have also used it to stop the fermentation of a Rose to have a higher residual sugar.”

Jordaan believes that there is a place for the SurePure technology in the market and that you can produce outstanding wines with low sulphur, provided that you follow the fundamental rules of chemistry to preserve your wines. “I would think that low sulphur whites should be drunk very young or sealed with screw cap to preserve the freshness, whereas the reds can be stretched, provided that you have ample extract in the form of tannin to help preserve the wine against oxidation,” Jordaan says.

The company which is poised to get the FDA approval for dairy products in the US makes several claims like extended shelf life, reduced water and energy requirements, preserving the sensory, chemical and phenolic integrity of wine and reduced need for preservatives like Sulphur because of its proven micro-biological efficacy. For details check out their website.

The Indian wine industry faced with micro-biological problems and using excess sulphur to keep the liquid disinfected could well benefit from the new technology, especially as most of the wines are meant to be drunk young, with increasing focus on the use of screwcaps by the wineries of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Subhash Arora



Rodney Says:

I love the idea of this process. I only wish a made a unit that smaller winerys across the US could afford. I priced the unit once and right now far to much expense. Make a smaller unit and price and I will sell to all my buddys as well as buy myself. Thanks

Posted @ May 12, 2011 11:17


Rishi Vohra, CSW Says:

This is a revolutionary technology, which I hope is adapted by the Indian Wine Industry after seeing its success in South Africa. Some Indian wines, for some reason, are known to cause headaches. Is it the high sulphur level? Nevertheless, this technology is known to have no side effects and has even proved successful in eradicating brettanomyces (wine spoilage yeast also a wine fault) in red wines! If such a technology could be adapted by organic wines, it could possibly help the industry (where sulfur is not added) which are usually perceived as a lower in quality due to the absence of sulfur which is known to preserve the shelf life of the wine.

Posted @ April 21, 2011 19:50


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