Alcoholic Fermentation - Biochemistry of the Reaction
Alcoholic fermentation is a biochemical process in which sugar molecules are broken down into ethanol and carbon dioxide with the help of enzymes. This chemical reaction occurs during glycolysis, which is the metabolic pathway that allows sugar to enter fermentation. Ethanol and carbon dioxide are waste products of this process and are released in the form of bubbles of carbon dioxide during fermentation, which can give rise to effervescence in some alcoholic beverages.
The carbon dioxide produced during fermentation can cause the formation of bubbles and pockets of gas in fermentation vessels. Therefore, it is important to ensure that fermentation spaces are adequately ventilated to prevent gas buildup and possible explosions.
Ethanol is the main product of alcoholic fermentation and can represent a significant portion of the total weight of the fermented beverage. However, ethanol concentrations in non-distilled alcoholic beverages generally do not exceed 20% because higher concentrations can be toxic to the yeast responsible for fermentation.
In addition to ethanol, other compounds are also produced in smaller amounts during alcoholic fermentation, such as succinic acid, glycerol, and fumaric acid, which contribute to the organoleptic and chemical characteristics of the final beverage.
It is important to note that, although alcoholic fermentation is a widely used biotechnological process for the production of alcoholic beverages, it must be carried out in a controlled and responsible manner, complying with regulations and established limits to ensure the safety and quality of the final products.