The Relation of Chemistry to the progress of Wine Making, Brewing, and Distilling

Harvey Wiley, Chief Chemist of the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Chemistry (third from the right) with his staff, not long after he joined the division in 1883. Wiley’s scientific expertise and political skills were a key to passage of the 1906 Food and Drugs Act and the creation of the FDA.


Wine making rests also largely upon chemical principles. In grapes we find large quantities of sugar combined with organic acids, of which tartaric acid is the chief, coloring matters, tannic principles, etc. The production of wine of fine flavor consists in securing the fermentation of the sugars of this mixture with appropriate ferments and under carefully controlled conditions of temperature. Only through the most careful chemical control are the most favorable conditions maintained. Consciously or unconsciously, the wine maker is a practical chemist, and under the influence of modern research the scientific principles of wine making are very much more firmly established and more easily practiced than they were before the conditions under which wine is produced were thoroughly understood. In wine making chemistry also exercises an important function in the utilization of the by-products. The tartaric acid present in grapes is very valuable in commerce, forming; in combination with potash, the well-known substance cream of tartar, which is so extensively employed in the manufacture of baking powders and for other purposes. By the application of the principles of chemical technology to the residues of the wine press and to the incrustations which form upon the vats the cream of tartar of commerce is secured.


Brewing is also largely a chemical science. The chief problem in the brewing industry is that of fermentation, and the development of fermentation has been due solely to the researches of chemists. In the brewing industry the first object is to collect the starch of the cereal into maltose and subsequently to change the maltose into alcohol by fermentation with yeast. By the researches of physiological chemists, it was discovered that the active principle in the eon version of starch into sugar is an enzymic ferment commonly called diastase,  which is developed in barley by germination. This ferment rapidly converts starch into maltose, the conversion often taking place within a few minutes. By the researches of Pasteur and other distinguished chemists, the method of producing pure cultures of yeast was established. It is important, in order to secure a fine flavor to the finished product, that the ferment be as pure as possible. It is thus seen that in the chief problems which underlie the brewing industry chemistry takes a leading part.


The industry devoted to the manufacture of alcohol, whisky, and brandy is also chiefly of a chemical nature. The distilling industry naturally follows after the brewing industry. The manufacture of alcohol from starch may be described as the same in both industries. After the alcohol is formed it is separated from the mash by distillation. In spite, however, of the greatest care in the selection of yeasts, several varieties of alcohol as well as of organic acids are formed during the process of fermentation. After the distillation is finished, therefore, the separation of common alcohol from the impurities with which it is naturally mixed becomes a difficult chemical problem. The progress which has been made in this line, however, has been so great as to render the production of pure alcohol on a commercial scale an industrial proceeding of great magnitude. Chemical principles also of the utmost importance underlie the production of whisky and brandy, due to the elimination of objectionable alcohols by means of oxidations produced by storage under proper conditions of temperature and in suitable vessels. The whole process of aging a whisky or brandy or wine rests exclusively upon the proper conduct and control of the chemical reactions which take place.

From The Relation of Chemistry to the Progress of Agriculture by Dr. H.W. Wiley as published in the Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture.  Wiley was he first commissioner of the FDA.

Top of Pg.

Comments are closed.


The best source of well-being or wealth is Economy. It is the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the mother of Liberty.

— Dr. Johnson

Mark Zuckerberg; Tulip Pusher

The Tulip Folly, by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1882. A nobleman guards an exceptional bloom as soldiers trample flowerbeds in a vain attempt to stabilise the tulip market by limiting the supply.

Mark Zuckerberg has become the poster boy of modern Tulip mania. It is not clear as to whether or not he is [...] Read more →

Proof of Stake Equals Proof of Ponzi

Ponzi schemes and MLM schemes are by design corrupt. They are designed to confuse and or hoodwink the investor or participant into believing he is buying into a surefire road to riches.

When a computer programmer designs and programs a computer program, or in the case of the crypto-world, a [...] Read more →

Bitcoin Suicide: 18,000 Jumpers

Bitcoin Suicide: 18,000 Jumpers

That Crypto-Punk you bullied way back in high school Became your Central Banker making you the fool

Now he’s shutting down his servers and clearing out the bank While you sit there in your basement watching Alt-coins tank

Back last October when he sold you a pack of lies He [...] Read more →

Exploring the Language of Propaganda: What You Need to Know

Propaganda is generally what is being passed off for news these days.

It comes from all perspectives; progressive, conservative, and marginal extremes.

Understanding the language of propaganda is necessary to enable one to quickly filter out articles written with persuasive goals as their ultimate objective. Any article that [...] Read more →

President Joe Biden’s Delusional Letter to Oil Company Executives

“Energy prices are set by global commodity prices …” Federal Reserve Chairman Powell June 15th, 2022

What follows is President Joe Biden’s delusional letter to oil company executives. I have added commentary to address the delusion. My comments are highlighted in yellow and parenthesis.

Dear (executive)

Penal Methods of the Middle Ages



Prisons as places of detention are very ancient institutions. As soon as men had learned the way to build, in stone, as in Egypt, or with bricks, as in Mesopotamia, when kings had many-towered fortresses, and the great barons castles [...] Read more →

Country House Essays Book Now in Print

Country House Essays, the book is now in print. This is an eclectic collection of both original, and historical essays, poems, books, and articles created for our loyal reader hear at It is jam packed with reprints of articles from this website. The cost is $49.95 for this massive [...] Read more →

Clarivoyance by C.W. Leadbeater

Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India, 1890


by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House




When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable [...] Read more →

Westminster Confession of Faith – 1646

CHAPTER I. Of the Holy Scripture.

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary [...] Read more →

Growing Muscadine Grapes in Tennessee

The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee has a long heralded tradition of assisting farmers and growers through it’s Agricultural Extension Service. The following bulletin entitled Grape Growing in Tennessee discusses the Muscadine variety of grapes among others. Muscadine grapes are often found growing wild in Tennessee. On my grandfather’s West Tennessee [...] Read more →

Platform of the American Institute of Banking in 1919

Resolution adapted at the New Orleans Convention of the American Institute of Banking, October 9, 1919:

“Ours is an educational association organized for the benefit of the banking fraternity of the country and within our membership may be found on an equal basis both employees and employers; and in full appreciation [...] Read more →

Parting Words to Kate from The Sloop of War, Jamestown

Sloop of War Jamestown – Photo from book The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, Series 1, Vol. 3.

Several years ago, I purchased a small memory book entitled Album of Love from the mid 1800s.

Much like scrap books of today, these books were used to keep [...] Read more →

Historic authenticity of the Spanish SAN FELIPE of 1690

Model of San Felipe

Reprinted from with the kind permission of Dr. Michael Czytko

The SAN FELIPE is one of the most favoured ships among the ship model builders. The model is elegant, very beautifully designed, and makes a decorative piece of art to be displayed at home or in [...] Read more →

The Late Rev. H.M. Scarth

H. M. Scarth, Rector of Wrington

By the death of Mr. Scarth on the 5th of April, at Tangier, where he had gone for his health’s sake, the familiar form of an old and much valued Member of the Institute has passed away. Harry Mengden Scarth was bron at Staindrop in Durham, [...] Read more →

Classic Restoration of a Spring Tied Upholstered Chair

This video by AT Restoration is the best hands on video I have run across on the basics of classic upholstery. Watch a master at work. Simply amazing.


Round needles: Double pointed hand needle: Hand tools: Staple gun (for beginner): Compressor for pneumatic [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt








WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act – Full Text


TITLE I – PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION OFFICE Chapter Section 1. Organization and Publications . 1 2. Legal Provisions as to the Plant Variety Protection Office . 21 3. Plant Variety Protection Fees . 31

CHAPTER 1.-ORGANIZATION AND PUBLICATIONS Section 1. Establishment.2 There is [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →