My question is in regards to Splenda as a sweetener. I belong to two wine making groups from Yahoo Groups and on occasion Splenda comes up as the subject. There are both pros and cons regarding Splenda as a sweetener. Would very much appreciate hearing your opinion on using Splenda to sweeten wines.
This is definitely an area of home wine making that has yet to be covered in any wine making books or other instructionals that cover how to make your own wine at home.
Splenda can be used to sweeten a wine just like any other sugar, just as long as you are happy with the flavor results, however there is some caution that needs to be taken...
Splenda is actually made from sugar that has had its molecular structure changed. This is done so that it can not be broken down and assimilated by the human body. It simply passes through the body, providing no nutritive value.
The same holds true with respect to Splenda in a fermentation. The yeast are unable to metabolize the Splenda and turn it into alcohol because of its molecular structure.
Where an issue comes in for winemakers is when time is brought into the equation. While Splenda does not break down over the course of a few days, if given more time, the leftover enzymes from a fermentation will eventually break down a portion of the Splenda into a fermentable carbohydrate.
This is exactly the situation you run across when you bottle your wine with Splenda. While the wine bottles sit on the shelf month-after-month, the natural enzymes in the wine will slowly start breaking down the Splenda. This in turn will allow any residual yeast to start nibbling on it and fermenting it. The result is CO2 gas slowly building up in the bottle until the wine cork stoppers eventually pushes out. The slightest amount of fermentation activity can cause quite a bit of gas or pressure in the wine bottle.
The take-away from this is that, yes, you can use Splenda to sweeten your wines just like you would with regular sugar, but you should also use a wine stabilizer such as potassium sorbate to eliminate any chance of re-fermentation within the wine bottle. Treat the Splenda as if it were real sugar.
Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.