Photo: Allison Usavage, Finger Lakes Wine Flour.

This niche product is about to go mainstream thanks to the often-wasted byproduct of wineries across America. See why you should check out this promising source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Zee Krstic
August 28, 2017

There’s nothing better than a fresh plate of creamy Fettuccine and a generous pour of cabernet – but could you imagine if you actually dined on Cabernet Fettuccine?

If you haven’t yet tasted this collaboration in your own kitchen, you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that a product known as ‘wine flour’ is more readily available to you than ever.

Slowly, but surely, the usage of wine flour has spread in prominence across the country thanks to a slew of smaller producers who have ingeniously thought of a new way to harvest the leftovers – and today you can find varieties ranging from a chardonnay base to a merlot blend.

It is common practice for wineries and winemakers to completely dispose of the mashed pile of grape bits after they’ve harvested the juices within grapes. This mixture, known as ‘pomace’ to those handling it, has previously been used for compost in wineries' own backyards or has been scooped up by other farmers to be composted elsewhere.

But in as early as 2011, cunning entrepreneurs spun that byproduct into a niche ingredient that turns one man’s trash into another’s ingenious addition to baked goods and creations like homemade pastas.

How do mashed up grapes suddenly find themselves in a flour ready for consumption? Producers collect pomace immediately after the juice has been harvested and then proceed to separate seeds and skins. Both of these are then dried and milled before ever being worked into flour, and those utilizing pomace must work quickly to avoid losing the potency of polyphenols found within grapes.

One independent producer in upstate New York turned to creating wine flour after she realized how cost effective the process could be if done correctly. Hillary Niver-Johnson started her business believing that the rich health benefits of adding the gluten-free wine flour to existing recipes could appeal to those who source their protein from plant-based foods.

“Because of the high fiber and protein, in each pound you have 150 grams of fiber and 150 grams of protein,” Niver-Johnson told WRVO, the NPR-affiliate in the Syracuse and Ithaca regions of New York. “It’s really water absorbent, so you just have to use a little bit to get the color, flavor and nutrition.”

It’s important to note, however, that wine flour has always been marketed to consumers as what Niver-Johnson calls “a supplemental flour” and not a complete substitution. There are a slew of recipes that could benefit from an added punch of wine flour in both taste and nutritional content – such as granola bars, for example.

Photo Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Pomace has not only been used in creating flour over the years; you can find pomace in newfound grape seed oil, or even being used as a food preservative in some instances. We’re betting, given the rising popularity of wine flour in both retail storefronts and culinary institutions, the healthy marvel that is pomace will continue to inspire more developments in the future. 

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