Ask Wine Wizard

Can I add yeast to Mountain Dew or Sprite to make it into a “wine”?



Dear Wine Wizard,

Can I add yeast to Mountain Dew or Sprite to make it into a “wine”?

Dean Mehrkens
Thief River Falls, Minnesota

Wine Wizard replies: Whoa. Sprite or Mountain Dew? I’ve never heard that one before, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. It’s just that when I think of commercial soda my Magic Eight Ball says “Signs Point to No.” Let me enlighten your fellow readers as to why these beverages (full of fermentable sugar, to be sure) make far from ideal “musts” for winemaking.

The number one reason would have to be pH. These drinks are far too acidic to support a healthy yeast population. They also are carbonated, and the osmotic pressure from the carbonation would kill the yeast.

These drinks also contain none of the nutrients (such as amino acids and other nitrogen sources) that are necessary for yeast growth and reproduction. Last (but not least), soda pop drinks, especially the ones you’ve mentioned, have no natural tannin, aromatic compounds or phenolic compounds to give structure, flavor and body. We expect wine to taste a certain way and soda drinks supply few, if any, of these compounds.

If you de-acidified the soda, de-gassed it to make it flat and then added nutrients, you might be able to ferment it into something alcoholic. Whether it would then be drinkable would be a decision that I would, most happily I might add, leave to you.

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