Making your own wine is fun, self-assuring, and not to mention impressive to your friends and family. However, there are still some problems that new winemakers have to deal with, most of which they’d never have heard of before.
One main issue for new winemakers is that their final result is turning out to be much too dry. We love dry wine as much as the next person, but if you have ever tried a winemaker’s first couple of experiments, you’ll know what we mean.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean that all of the wine needs to be poured down the drain and wasted. In fact, the remedy is quite simple and quick to do! All you need to do is back sweeten the wine before serving it to people.
Back sweetening can turn an incredibly dry wine into a semi-dry wine, or you can go all the way and make it as sweet as possible, similar to a dessert wine. The process of back sweetening is to make your wine ideal for your taste.
Which wines need back sweetening?
The most common wines that are in desperate need of back sweetening are actually fruit wines. The main fermentable in a fruit wine is sugar, which is 100% fermentable, and therefore it all gets converted into alcohol. This means that the fruit wine will be the dryest of them all.
Luckily, it is relatively simple to back sweeten your wine and add some more sweetness to it. Unfortunately; however, it isn’t as quick as simply adding a few spoonfuls of sugar into the liquid. There are a few more steps to follow.
What does back sweetening involve?
As the name suggests, back sweetening involves adding either sugar or sweetener back into the fermented wine to make it less dry. However, you need to ensure that the sugar you’re using is not going to start a second fermentation process and make it even dryer than before.
To ensure that this isn’t going to happen, you first need to stabilize the wine. This can be done once the fermentation is completely completed and the wine is clear. Below we will be looking at how to stabilize your wine as well as back sweetening it afterward.
Stabilizing your wine
First and foremost, we need to stabilize the wine before we can back sweeten it. This is the process of adding additives such as potassium sorbate to the wine. You should use as few additives as possible to avoid the taste or color being altered too much.
Stabilizing the wine should only be done once fermentation has been completed. To ensure that this first process has ended, you’ll need to use a hydrometer that can measure the gravity of the wine.
For fruit wines, a reading between 0.998 and 1.000 means that the fermentation process has finished.
The wine will also need to have cleared completely, with the yeast all sedimented at the bottom of the liquid.
If your wine is still cloudy, it means that the yeast is still being suspended, and therefore stabilizing it will not work properly yet.
To stabilize your wine, you’ll need to add potassium sorbate and sodium metabisulphite. These are preservatives used within the food industry to prevent mold and yeast growth.
These additives will stop the yeast from reproducing, preventing added sugars from being fermented within your wine.
Before adding these preservatives, you’ll need to rack the cleared wine off of any sediment into a new bottle or container. This will prevent the sediment from getting stirred back up into the wine.
The common amount of each additive is ¾ teaspoon of potassium sorbate and one Campden tablet, which is the common name of sodium metabisulphite.
However, always check the correct amounts with your individual wine, depending on the fruit and how much of it you’ve made. 0
Dissolve these preservatives in water and leave them to cool before adding to your wine. Mix gently and leave for at least 12 hours before moving onto back sweetening.
Back sweetening your wine
There are different things that you can use to sweeten your wine, from types of sugar to artificial sweeteners. Plain sugar is considered the best.
Simply dissolve a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water and start to add it slowly into your wine until you reach your desired sweetness.
Alternatively, you can use fruit juice to add sweetness back into the wine. Grape juice is a good option and will enhance the flavor without altering it too much. Some people prefer this to just adding sugar as it makes the flavor more powerful.
You can also add Glycerine to your wine, which is a liquid without any color, flavor, or scent. It just tastes incredibly sweet. An added benefit of Glycerine is that it cannot be fermented.
No matter which option you choose, you should add only a small amount of the sweetener at a time to ensure that you don’t add too much and make your wine too sweet.
This isn’t the most accurate way of back sweetening your wine, but it is the easiest.
Using extrapolation to back sweeten wine
If you want to use a more accurate method of back sweetening wine, you should take a small sample of your wine to test on. This should be 100ml to avoid wasting too much.
Using a pipette, take a few drops of your chosen sweetening solution and add them to your wine. Make sure to count how many you’re using!
One drop will be 0.05ml. Sample the wine and continue adding more sweetener until you’re happy with the taste.
Once you reach the perfect sweetness, you can extrapolate the number of drops you used and add them to the entire batch. Again, this isn’t an incredibly accurate way of doing things, but it will help you to avoid oversweetening your wine.
We hope that you’ve learned something interesting and helpful about back sweetening your wine! Now you’ve got the drinks sorted for your next get-together ready to wow your peers with your newest craft – enjoy!