Is it Wine or Rocket Fuel?

January 7, 2008 at 8:00 pm (Thoughts, Wine Recipes, Winemaking, Winemaking Tips) (, , , , , )

Alcohol is the byproduct of yeast eating sugar. We worry about the amount of sugar in our juice because there is a direct relationship between the amount of sugar in the juice and the amount of alcohol in the finished product.

The formula for converting the sugar content into alcohol is:

(Starting Specific Gravity – Ending Specific Gravity) x 105 x 1.26 = % Alcohol by Volume

The starting specific gravity is going to depend on how much sugar is in your grapes or how much you put into the must. The blueberry wine currently in process had a starting specific gravity of 1.080. I know from experience that the ending specific gravity will be around 0.995 to 1.000.

Based on my numbers, the finished blueberry wine will run about 11% alcohol. That’s just fine, anything from 11% to 13% is acceptable. You can feed more sugar into the juice and end up with a higher percentage of alcohol, but it will most likely be out of balance with the flavor and taste more like rocket fuel than wine.

If you are working with grapes, you have a natural amount of sugar already in there. You can add more, but you want to measure the specific gravity before you do that. Traditional wine makers (old Italian men) will never add sugar to their juice. If you are making fruit wine, you have to add sugar, you don’t have a choice. Only grapes have enough natural sugar to ferment into wine.

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