How to Back Sweeten a Wine Kit

How to Back Sweeten a Wine Kit

So you’ve made a wine kit and it turned out all right but maybe it needs a bit more sugar to suit your palate. Recently Sam wrote in with this exact dilema. He had made a wine kit per the instructions and everything turned out as it should have but the wine just wasn’t sweet enough for him and his wife. Is It Possible to Back Sweeten a Wine Kit? Yes, it is possible and it’s not all that difficult to do either. Some wine kits include an “F-Pack” or unfermented juice with is used as a back sweetener. However, if your kit did not include this you can still sweeten things up a bit. Before any sweetener is added you’re going to need to stabilize your wine, otherwise you risk starting a second fermentation. This can be quite dangerous if said fermentation takes place after the wine has been bottled (boom). To stabilize your wine you’ll need either potassium sorbate or a sterile filtration system. Sorbate is the lease expensive way to go but it is another additive and, in some wines after a couple years in the bottle, it can result in off flavors. However, if you plan on consuming this wine within two years or so it probably won’t make a huge difference. Sterile filtration systems are what the pros use and even though there are amateur units available they can be quite pricey when new. However, if you happen to have access to one you’ll want to filter the finished wine with a 0.45 micron filter pad. This is what’s known as a sterile filter pad because it is fine enough to remove single celled organisms such as yeast and spoilage micro-organisms. You should only ever run a wine through a sterile filter pad after it is perfectly clear. Otherwise your pads will clog immediately. Commercial wineries often filter their wines once or twice with coarser pads before passing it through a sterile filter. Now that we’ve covered that here’s… How to Back Sweeten a Wine Kit Step 1: Ferment your wine all the way to completion. It should be ready to bottle before back sweetening. This means it is still, degassed, and clear. Step 2: Clean and sanitize your primary fermenter or another carboy. Step 3: Measure out the required amount of potassium sorbate and toss it into the clean container from step 2. I use L.D. Carlson Potassium SorbateĀ (affiliate link) and it calls for 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of wine. Be sure to check what your bottle says in case different manufacturers sell different sorbate concentrations. To ensure that we don’t add too much or too little sorbate I would leave out any sorbate that the wine kit comes with and instead use only a sorbate that you purchase. Because we can’t be sure what the concentration of sorbate is and how much is included in the packet it is best to use a measured amount that has the correct dosage information printed on it. By adding the sorbate before racking you are letting the flow of the wine mix it in. You’ll...

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How to Back Sweeten Wine

How to Back Sweeten Wine

Back sweetening is the process used to turn a completely dry wine into either an off dry or sweet wine. This is just one of many ways in which you can produce a sweet wine. The most common ways of back sweetening are by adding sugar or unfermented grape juice to a finished wine. By finished I mean fermented and stabilized. Back Sweetening with Sugar Often amateur winemakers will add sugar to a fully fermented dry wine to create a sweet wine. While this does work there are issues with the flavors of the wine and sugar. Because the sugar was not a product of the grape and because it is added after the wine has finished fermenting it doesn’t completely integrate into the flavor profile of the wine. Instead you’ll have a sweet wine where you can actually taste the table sugar. Aging a back sweetened wine can help integrate the flavor of the wine and the sugar. However, this has its limits. There are many out there that can pick out the table sugar flavors of wines sweetened this way. Should you want to experiment with this method try it with a single glass of wine at first. Draw a sample glass of wine with a wine thief. Next, add table sugar in very small increments, tasting between each addition. If you like what you taste then proceed to sweeten your entire batch. If not, consider leaving your wine dry. Back Sweetening with Unfermented Grape Juice A more preferable method of back sweetening is to ferment the wine completely dry and add unfermented grape juice to it. This process is known as back-blending. It works best when the juice used to sweeten the wine has come from the same juice that was fermented to make the wine. This makes for a much more integrated final product. If you know you want to make a sweet wine from the start reserve a portion of the grape juice for sweetening. After the wine is dry and stable you can blend the unfermented juice back into your wine until it reaches the desired level of sweetness. When back-blending add the unfermented grape juice in small amounts and taste samples often. It’s a good idea to first try this with a sample glass of wine. After all, you can’t un-sweeten a wine that is too sweet so be careful not to go to far. Sweet wine kits come with a package of unfermented grape juice pre-measured in the correct proportions for the amount of wine made in the kit. The Riesling kit I made included an “F-Pack” of unfermented grape juice concentrate. I can say from experience that the f-pack did not negatively affect the flavor profile of the wine. It tastes just as integrated today as it did before I back-blended it. This is the preferable way to produce a sweet wine at the amateur level. Wineries have more complex methods, however, some wineries do produce sweet table wines by back-blending. Stability is Key The most important concern with back sweetening and back-blending is ensuring your wine is stable enough...

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