Flavouring fruity booze with a stinky gas [patent]

If you’re trying to make an alcoholic drink with the flavour of passion fruit and grapefruit, an obvious method would be to ferment passion fruit and grapefruit juices. But that’s not the only way. You could, for example, get hold of a fermenting New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc as a base, and then bubble hydrogen sulfide (H2S) though it. If you’re not familiar with hydrogen sulfide [that’s hydrogen sulphide in the UK] here’s what Wikipedia’s entry says about it:

“Hydrogen sulfide is the chemical compound with the formula H2S. It is a colorless chalcogen hydride gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. It is very poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.”

A less-than-ideal chemical, you might think, to use in flavouring alcoholic drinks. Nevertheless, a 2014 US patent from the drinks makers Pernod-Ricard suggests that bubbling H2S though a fermenting grape juice / wine – particularly Sauvingnon Blanc from New Zealand – might be a good way of producing a drink with the flavour of passion fruit and grapefruit.

“It is an object of the present invention to provide a useful alternative for producing an alcoholic beverage having a fruity flavor, in particular being reminiscent of grapefruit and passion fruit, which is easily carried out and which provides a better control of the level of the aromas in the obtained alcoholic beverage than other known methods of producing alcoholic beverages.”

“The inventors have surprisingly found, that due to the bubbling of a gas stream containing hydrogen sulfide into grape juice, the volatile thiol content of 3MH and 3MHA in the finished wine had been increased, in some cases tripled, in relation to the volatile thiol content of wine derived from the same grapes obtained by standard methods without bubbling.”

See: Method of producing an alcoholic beverage having a fruity flavor, 9758752 Sep. 12 2017

Note: The image depicts an historic ‘stink bomb’ – which were sometimes based on H2S in solution.

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