Today I am going to talk about how to sweeten home made wine. Most of my fruit wine finishes very dry. When a wine is too dry, the only thing I can taste is the acid in the wine. I like to bring the fruit flavor out even in my dry wines. I am going to explain how I figure out how much sugar to add.
First be sure your wine is finished fermenting! This is very important. If you add sugar to a wine that is not finished, it will start fermenting again. If it happens to be in bottles when it starts up, it will pop the corks.
Second, I always stabilize my wine prior to sweetening. I do this to stop any residual yeast from starting to ferment again. I stabilize by adding Sorbate K and Campden Tablets (Potassium Meta-bi sulfite). These two added together will stop the yeast from regrowing when the sweetener is added.
Now for the process. I draw a 750ml bottle of wine from the carboy and divide it among 4 wine glasses. This will make the math easier. One glass will not have any sugar add. This is the control glass, so I can compare this to the sweetened wine. In each of the other glasses I will add sugar in 1/4 teaspoon increments. So in glass 1 I will add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, glass 2 will get 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and glass three will get 3/4 teaspoon of sugar.
Then I taste each glass of wine. I taste just enough wine to get an idea of the flavor profile. After the first tasting, I will add another batch of sugar to the wine. Since I am testing 3 glasses of wine, each with sugar in 1/4 tsp increments, I will add 3/4 teaspoon of sugar to each glass. 1/4 tsp plus 3/4 tsp, give a glass with 1 ts of sugar. Adding 3/4 tsp. to each of the other glasses gives 1 1/4 tsp and 1 1/2 tsp respectfully. I then perform the tasting of each of the sweetened glasses again. I make sure to clean my palate each time with water between tastings.
If the second round does not produce the flavor I want, I will do this process a third time. After I know how much sugar is needed to bring out the flavor of the wine, I can calculate how much sugar to add to the 5 gallon carboy. Since I did this with 4 glasses of wine from 1 bottle, it is easy to do the math.
For instance, if 1 tsp. of sugar is needed for a glass of wine, I know I need 4 tsp. for one bottle of wine. There are 25 bottles of wine per carboy, so 4×25=100 tsp of sugar for 5 gallons. There are 48 tsp in a cup, so I add just over two cups of sugar. (Note: This conversion works with a full carboy. If your carboy is not full, then you need to add a little less sugar. Wine Making is part art, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. 🙂 )
That is how I determine how to sweeten a wine. I usually add just enough sugar to bring the fruit flavor out. But, if you prefer a sweeter wine, you can make that as well. That is the beauty of making you own wine!