Spinning Cone Column

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

spinning cone column, gas-liquid counter-current device for making dealcoholized wine or grape concentrate and for removing sulfur dioxide from juice, and reducing some wines’ alcoholic strength, particularly in California. Spinning cone technology is an advance on the processes operating in a one- or two-stage vacuum evaporator. The device consists of a vertical stainless steel column containing two internal and alternating series of inverted cones; one series is fixed and attached to the column wall, the second series is parallel to the first and attached to a central rotating shaft. Liquid flows down the upper surfaces of the stationary cones under gravity, and moves up the upper surfaces of the rotating cones in a thin film due to the centrifugal force from the spinning action. Vapour that is evaporated from the thin film of liquid (under vacuum at low temperature, and with the aid of an inert stripping gas) flows up the column in the spaces between the successive fixed and rotating cones. Through a process of repeated evaporation and condensation on the cones, the volatiles are enriched in the up-flowing vapour stream. The volatiles, after passing through a condenser, are finally captured in liquid form at the top of the column while the stripped liquid is pumped out the bottom of the column. Spinning cone technology offers extremely high separation efficiency, with a low pressure drop across the column and low liquid hold up, hence the juice or wine has a short residence time in the column. Accordingly, alcohol and aroma removal are achieved with much less of the product evaporated than in a traditional evaporator. Also, the aroma fraction is recovered separately from the alcohol and can be back added to the wine to restore the flavour profile at a lower alcohol concentration. One application of the spinning cone column is reducing the alcoholic strength of excessively alcoholic wines by between one and 3% without loss of flavour compounds to produce a wine with the flavour intensity afforded by fully ripe fruit but without an unacceptable alcohol content. About 10% of the wine is passed through the spinning cone column and, after having the volatile flavour compounds restored, is then added back to the remainder.