Why is Beer Carbonated Whereas Wine and Liquor Generally Aren't?

Beer’s carbonation can be artificial, but is often natural and is caused by fermentation, but that is the same process that produces the alcohol in wine and liquor, as well, so why aren’t they fizzy too?

Some wine is… the methode Champenoise is broadly identical to the way that homebrewers naturally carbonate their beers, i.e. ferment it out, add some sugar, bottle tightly, and let the CO2 formed dissolve into solution.

Carbonated liquor would be strange; distillation by definition would remove any gas from the original fermentation, and I pretty much doubt you’d be able to even effectively carbonate an 80 proof spirit- the alcohol & water would have very different properties than water alone.

If you want carbonated liquor, you add club soda.

Or Tonic Water, if you’re feeling particularly Colonial. :smiley:

The critical words above are “bottle tightly”. Fermentation of wine does create lots of CO2, and partially fermented wine is slightly fizzy because of this. (I think it tastes rather nice.) But wine is fermented and processed at atmospheric pressure, and the CO2 won’t stay dissolved. By the time fermentation is complete the CO2 created has vanished. An ordinary cork won’t hold enough pressure to retain dissolved CO2 anyway - hence the crown caps used on beer bottles and on champagne bottles prior to the final wired cork being installed after disgorgement.

Secondary fermentation in the bottle is used to create champagnes, and also naturally sparking beers. An example of primary fermentation creating a sparkling drink is homemade ginger beer. Again, a pressurised bottle is needed.

I am reminded of a favourite story from the bar manager at my old university. Back in the day, the bar used to have wine on tap. 18 gallon kegs of quite awful riesling and moselle. The kegs were coupled into the same cooling and tap system as the beer. The only difference was that the wine was pressurised with nitrogen, whereas beer kegs are pressurised with CO2. One day a junior barman got it wrong and coupled a CO2 bottle to the wine keg. They were pouring sparkling white wine that day. It tasted even worse.

For most of the world’s history, beer wasn’t fizzy. It wasn’t until the invention of the crown cap that people started drinking beer with lots of bubbles.

Try a real ale in England sometime. Almost completely flat (by American standards). What bubbles there are come from residual fermentation in the cask.

You can’t do bottle carbonation of liquor because no yeast can live in that high a percentage of alcohol.

Colonial referring to what? Tonic water was most widely used by the English.

Tonic water was used originally by the British East India company to prevent malaria in India.

Of course, it tasted nasty, so they started adding gin. That’s how the Gin & Tonic was born.

Okay, next time I’m home, I’m going to try to force-carbonate a bottle of Don Julio tequila. I can’t wait to see what happens, or how it tastes! Problem is I need two litres of the stuff, because my carbonation setup won’t fit on smaller bottles. :frowning:

Having vomited tequila-based drinks involuntarily in the past (more than once, of course), I cannot imagine the ick-factor of ‘foamy tequila’ returning through mouth/nose. Or creating pressure within my belly that must be burped out at risk of bringing the stuff back up with it. Risk factor is pretty high there, imho. Makes me kinda queasy just thinking about such a beverage (serious, my belly just told me “ya better not think more on it!!”).

To each their own, but none for me, please :slight_smile:

Wait…they added gin to IMPROVE the flavor? That had to be some incredibly nasty tonic water, then. I’ve never been able to tell the difference between the way gin tastes and the way rubbing alcohol smells.

Um… colonial referring to the colonies? As in, India, one of the colonies of the British Empire? What the hell else would it refer to?

Tonic water doesn’t taste foul. It just happens to have an affinity with the juniper in the gin.

I anxiously await the results of your test.

Wine can be made fizzy, too. Just bottle before it’s fully fermented out or add additional fermentables at bottling. (The traditional methode champenoise is a bit more involved than just this, but the same general principle.) The yeast eats the additional sugars, farts it own CO2, there’s no place for it to go (unless pressure builds up so much that the cap, cork, or bottle pop) so it remains in solution until you open it. Then it gets fizzy when it comes out of solution.

Liquor is distilled from the product of fermentation. When you ferment something, you generally can’t get anything higher than about 15%-20% alcohol tops. What happens then, in the process of distillation, is you basically boil it off and, because of the different boiling points for water and alcohol, you have a rig set up in such a way to catch the alcohol condensate (which boils off before the water.) When you’re done, you’ll have a clear liquid which is your distilled alcohol. You then age it, and then dilute it down to 40% (or whatever you want) using an alcohol hydrometer (just a simple glass device that floats in the water.)

So, there’s just no opportunity for distilled alcohol to naturally carbonate. The yeasts are all dead from the distilling process but, even if you were to reintroduce the yeasts, they would die from the high alcohol concentrations. Besides, what would the point of carbonating liquor be? With alcohols you drink by the glass it makes some sense, for adding to the mouthfeel and maybe accentuating the aromas, but for something that it usually drunk in 1.5-2 fl. oz. increments, I don’t see the appeal.

I watched a movie recently (not sure which) where the characters used dry ice to carbonate and cool liquor without having to water it down with soda. I don’t know for sure if it works, but I intend to give it a try the next time I have dry ice and liquor in the same place at the same time. (Unfortunately, that could be never).

yes it works.

you need to do this with caution. an alcohol beverage can be liquid below the freezing point of water, the higher concentration of alcohol the colder it can get and still be liquid.

if you swallowed a liquid below the freezing point of water you could freeze mouth tissue, tongue and throat giving yourself frostbite. this could be anywhere from a minor to a major injury.

if you did this use a thermometer and keep it above the freezing point of water.

The difference in taste between really cheap gin and premium gin is considerable. The cheap stuff does taste awful, but the good stuff is, well, pretty good!

I’ll have to order something made with top-shelf stuff then, because my first experiences with gin & tonic were at wedding reception open bars, and those experiences made me wary of spending any extra money for the top brands to see if the quality improved.

One word. Bombay.

You’re new here, aren’t you? :slight_smile: (I’m the board’s resident Colonialist/Imperialist/British Empire Military Historian, you see)

The second word, lest you’re currently booking flights to India, is “Sapphire”. Bombay Sapphire gin was the stuff they served aboard Concorde, and under no circumstances should you even think about considering another brand.

I don’t.