In this chapter, Alice confronts the spectre of adding water to wine What do you want to do about the alcohol? My stomach churned as it digested the question that would lead me to harsh reality. All I had to do was accept the word do. But did we have to do anything to the *** On the New York Times a commenter named Emilio questioned the legality of this practice in the United States. lice and Kevin: Adding water is illegal in California as well though it is never enforced. Section 17010(a) of the California Administrative Code states:” ….and no water in excess of the minimum amount necessary to facilitate normal fermentation may be used in the production or cellar treatment of any grape wine…” You can only add water to prevent a stuck fermentations which in your case (as in most) would not have happened since many yeasts will go dry >16%.. Personally I feel enforcement of this rule would improve California wines dramatically. E — Emilio Castelli Here's my answer: Was wondering if someone was going to bring that up. According to a 2002 letter to the Wine Institute from the Dept.of Health Services, Food & Drug Branch (http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/pressroom/05202002) "no water in excess of the minimum amount necessary to facilitate normal fermenation" was interpreted to mean no water in excess of that needed to prevent a fermentation from sticking, but that goes to complete dryness within a reasonable time period under normal winemaking conditions." That is a huge loop hole. Seems to me there is nothing to enforce here.Plenty of wines stick at under 16 degrees projected alcohol and what is a winemaker to do, wait for a disaster? If you read the story, Kevin was concerned the wine would not go to dryness. Seems like all you need is concern to be perfectly legal. I am not for water addition. I would much rather pick at lower ripeness, when a wine can make itself with no heroics. However, I do view water as far less damaging and more 'real' then torturing a wine with reverse osmosis--the machine that spits out wine into wine sludge, water and alcohol and then begs for reconstitution. This is the common fix for stuck fermentation. And for some reason, no one questions the legality of the procedure.