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Does microwaving wine have the potential to remove the alcohol? If so, how long might be required?

(I'm specifically interested in the microwaving aspect, which is why the existing questions on cooking away article aren't exactly sufficient)

  • Do you want to remove alcohol from wine? – paparazzo Oct 10 '16 at 20:21
  • I think you'd have to heat it long enough to evaporate at minimum the percentage of liquid, that matches the percentage of alcohol in the wine. And probably a little more, since some water will probably be evaporated anyway. So something 10% alcohol would need to lose just over a tenth of its mass to evaporation before it is even a possibility the alcohol was lost, and probably a little more if you want to be certain. But I actually am just speculating, perhaps someone else knows a better answer – Megha Oct 10 '16 at 21:29
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    This seems like it might be mostly a duplicate of cooking.stackexchange.com/q/659/1672, a general question about cooking away alcohol. A microwave is just another way to cook things, and it can certainly simmer or boil liquid. – Cascabel Oct 10 '16 at 23:43
  • @Jefromi ... I can see why you'd mention that other post, informative as it is, but I'm specifically interested in the microwave aspect, though it seems insignificant. – lithic Oct 11 '16 at 17:50
  • Okay, that's fine. I suggested it as a possible duplicate because your question was general enough that it sounded like you might just need the "what happens when you cook it" part. – Cascabel Oct 11 '16 at 17:53
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Cooking is not as effective at removing alcohol as many people think; the alcohol and water evaporate or boil together. At a simmer, it might only take 10-15 minutes to get rid of half of the alcohol, but getting rid of 90% of it takes more like two hours. See this previous question on cooking away alcohol for more detail.

In any case, a microwave can certainly simmer or boil liquids, and the alcohol/water evaporation doesn't care about what equipment you used to cook it, so you certainly could do use a microwave to reduce the amount of alcohol in wine.

However, it doesn't give you nearly as much control as a stove; even if you use a reduced power, it'll tend to boil on and off as it cycles the power. And microwaving for extended time periods is a pretty awkward method.

So in general, I'd suggest doing this kind of thing with conventional cooking methods, especially if it's as part of a dish. You can use the cooking time of a stew to help reduce the alcohol, for example. And even if you want to remove more alcohol than the cooking time of your dish permits, a pot on the stove gives you much better control.

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Microwaving will have the same effect as boiling it, except that boiling it in an oven (microwave or not) might actually slow down alcohol evaporation due to vapor being unable to leave the oven. Also, make sure you are not creating a fire hazard by saturating an oven with alcohol vapors.

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    I thought about this initially too but then I remembered I've managed to boil away plenty of liquid in my microwave. They generally vent pretty well (you can see the steam), and there's not much chance for condensation to drip back into the liquid. Might still matter for a simmer, though. For a boil, you can see it bubbling, clearly not that slow. – Cascabel Oct 11 '16 at 15:09
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Alcohol is more volatile (lower boiling point) than water.

With a microwave you boil both and even though would lose more alcohol than water than water but not much more. If you boil the water you basically give up most of advantage of water being a lower volatility.

A better method would be to float a bowl of wine in simmering water for an hour or so. You will lose about 20% of the water and like 98% of the alcohol.

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  • Simmering is a good suggestion, but where does that 98% number come from? I've generally seen numbers more like 75% of alcohol cooked away after an hour, and 90-95% after two hours (see for example answers to this question). Also, your vapor-liquid equilibrium graph is a kind of odd inclusion - I guess you're trying to support your point that both substances boil away, but it's for 2-propanol at 60kpa, not ethanol at atmospheric pressure. – Cascabel Oct 10 '16 at 23:54
  • @Jefromi It was the chart I found and it was visual integral. Don't down vote me and expect me to engage you. – paparazzo Oct 11 '16 at 0:53
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    I'm not asking you to engage me, I'm trying to as gently as possible suggest that you might want to improve your answer. Significant portions of it are false or misleading. If that's not something that you care about, okay, but don't be surprised about downvotes. – Cascabel Oct 11 '16 at 2:50

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