Spinning cone

Spinning cone

Spinning cone columns are used in a form of steam distillation to gently extract volatile chemicals from liquid foodstuffs while minimising the effect on the taste of the product. For instance, the columns can be used to remove some of the alcohol from wine, 'off' smells from cream, and to capture aroma compounds that would otherwise be lost in coffee processing.


The columns are made of stainless steel. Conical vanes are attached alternately to the wall of the column and to a central rotating shaft. The product is poured in at the top under vacuum, and steam is pumped into the column from below. [cite web | title = How does the SCC work? | publisher = FT Technologies | url = http://www.ft-tech.net/Technologies/Spinning_Cone_Column/how-does-scc-work.html | accessdate = 2007-12-19 ] The vanes provide a large surface area over which volatile compounds can evaporate into the steam, and the rotation ensures a thin layer of the product is constantly moved over the moving cone. It typically takes 20 seconds for the liquid to move through the column, and industrial columns might process 16-160 litres per minute. The temperature and pressure can be adjusted depending on the compounds targeted.

Wine controversy

Improvements in viticulture and warmer vintages have led to increasing levels of sugar in wine grapes, which have translated to higher levels of alcohol - which can reach over 15% ABV in Zinfandels from California. Some producers feel that this unbalances their wine, and use spinning cones to reduce the alcohol by 1-2 percentage points. In this case the wine is passed through the column once to distil out the most volatile aroma compounds which are then put to one side whilst the wine goes through the column a second time at higher temperature to extract some of the alcohol. The aroma compounds are then mixed back into the wine. However some producers such as Joel Peterson of Ravenswood argue that technological 'fixes' such as spinning cones remove a sense of terroir from the wine; if the wine has the tannins and other components to balance 15% alcohol, Peterson argues that it should be accepted on its own terms.cite journal | last = Peterson| first = Joel | title = To knock all high-alcohol wines is just simplistic | journal = Decanter | issue = December 2007 | pages =p8 | publisher = IPC | location = UK]

The use of spinning cones, and other technologies such as reverse osmosis, is banned in the EU, although they can be used in wines imported into the EU.cite web | last=Smithers | first=Rebecca | url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/nov/03/drink.foodanddrink | title=Low-alcohol 'Chateau D'Orking' falls foul of the rules | date=2007-11-03 | accessdate=2008-01-12] In November 2007, the Wine Standards Branch (WSB) of the UK's Food Standards Agency banned the sale of a wine called Sovio, made from Spanish grapes that would normally produce wines of 14% ABV.cite web | last=Clement | first=Sandra | url=http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/wine-news-detail.asp?id=217 | title=Spinning cone in Spain could open doors for lower-alcohol wines | date=2007-08-07 | accessdate=2008-01-12] Sovio runs 40-50% of the wine over spinning cones to reduce the alcohol content to 8%, which means that under EU law it cannot be sold as wine as it is below 8.5%; above that it would be banned because spinning cones cannot be used in EU winemaking.

In 2008, spanish winery Miguel Torres launched an alcohol free wine (0.5% ABV) manufactured using the Spinning Cone Column technique. This launch followed an earlier release by another Spanish winery, Casa de la Ermita, of a 6.5% ABV wine also produced using the same method. [http://www.indianwineacademy.com/item_2_243.aspx "Torres Lauches Alcohol Free Wine"] . Indianwineacademy.com. Retrieved: 27 September 2008.]

ee also

* Winemaking
* Distillation
* Spinning band distillation

Notes and references

Further reading

* cite book
last = Robinson
first = Jancis
authorlink = Jancis Robinson
title = The Oxford Companion to Wine, third edition
publisher = Oxford University Press
date = 2006
location =
pages =
id = 978-0198609902

External links

* [http://www.ft-tech.net/Technologies/Spinning_Cone_Column/spinning-cone-column.html FT Technologies] (formerly Flavourtech), a column manufacturer, has some good information and diagrams of how the columns work.

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