How on Earth do you calculate the ABV for country wines?

Discussion in 'Wine, Cider, Mead and Kombucha Discussion.' started by shearclass, Nov 1, 2011.

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  1. Nov 1, 2011 #1

    shearclass

    shearclass

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    Hi All

    I know about using a hydrometer, but how do you calculate the starting gravity for a country wine? In this case, the sugar will partly be in the fruit, rather than disolved in a wort.

    Is there some sort of table that shows average suagr content of fruits and vegetables? I doubt this as I imagine the sugar content varies considerably from crop to crop, so this figure may not be very accurate.

    Also, assuming this information can be obtained, do you then assume that 100% of the sugar in the fruit is extracted into the must? Surely not?

    Am I missing something obvious?


    Cheers :cheers:
     
  2. Nov 1, 2011 #2

    oldbloke

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    Moley posted a fruit/veg->sugar table on here somewhere within the last month or so.

    For recipes where you do your steeping or other extraction method on the fruit/veg, then remove the pulp and add your sugar, a hydrometer ought to work.
     
  3. Nov 1, 2011 #3

    Moley

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    >>Link<<

    David could probably explain how you're meant to weigh the pulp after straining and calculate any sugars which might be discarded, but I usually just guess it at around 90% extraction.

    I try to avoid adding sugar until after straining.
     
  4. Nov 2, 2011 #4

    David

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    If you make a wine with several pounds of fruit and add the sugar after straining there's only a fraction of an ounce of fruit sugar in the wet pulp from straining.

    But if you make a wine with lots of fruit and add the sugar to the bucket, a significant amount can be discarded with the pulp, especially if sultanas, etc, are used to add a large amount of the sugar, (increasing the amount of pulp strained off) and the straining is done before most of the sugars are fermented.

    For example, using 'total sugar' calcs assuming all the sugars had gone through into 5 litres of strained apple wine made using 7.5 lbs apples, 1 kg sultanas, 1 lb sugar & 5 pints of water will give an SG approx 10 points higher than if adjusted for the sugar thrown out in the wet pulp by weighing it, dividing by 2 (wet sieved pulp is approx 50:50 water/solids) and calculate from the SG how much sugar's in it.

    It might not sound like a big deal, but occasionally people pour sugar syrup over apple chunks in a bucket and take a ridiculously high 'OSG' before the fruit has broken down and released its juice to dilute the syrup enabling an accurate reading to be taken. They sometimes strain it (plus do all sorts of other stuff) before posting their problem and those 10 points can then make all the difference to a guesstimated calc. Using a fine straining bag rather than a kitchen sieve will reduce liquid in the pulp by about 50%.

    Another more obscure one is doing your sugar calcs for steeping a bag of chopped sultanas/raisins in a couple of litres of water/fruit juice and checking that all the sugar has been released by waiting until your hydrometer reading has got to that calculated SG. But when the dried fruit re-hydrates it will absorb water as well as releasing sugars, reducing the volume sufficiently to achieve the desired SG with perhaps 20% of the sugars left in the soggy sultanas/raisins that would be strained off.
     
  5. Nov 2, 2011 #5

    shearclass

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    I was about to ask who David was, but now i know it's Daddy Pig.

    Moley, for the 20th time, thanks for your help, I'll read through that post a couple of times before starting my next wine.

    Also, Thanks for your extra information David, I'll have to read it a couple of times i think before i get my head around it all.

    What i have done for the few country wines I've attempted is add fruit and sugar and water and acids etc to a bucket, add campden tablet(s), add pectolase, ferment for 5 - 7 days, strain into another fermentor and proceed as normal. Therefore i have sugar and whole fruit in from the start.

    I am happy to be told there is a better way of diong this, I've just been following recipes.
     
  6. Nov 2, 2011 #6

    shearclass

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    Any approximation of 'a significant amount' here? My example

    10 litres of water
    6.4 kg bitter crab apples
    2.2kg sugar
    500g sultanas

    I wouldn't normally use that much sugar + raisens, but i thought i had used too much water in 10 litres, thinking i would get juice from the apples too, so in order to avoid weak wine iaded extra 200g sugar plus 500g sultanas.

    However, after fermenting on the pulp, straining, fermenting in a bucket for a couple of weeks, then racking into demi johns, I only had 7 - 7.5 litres :hmm: so i assume i probably lost a bit of sugar in the straining/racknig process?


    I guess I need to refine my technique. On the other hand, if I have lost some sugar, I may not have ruined my wine by adding too much. I was concerned that it wasn't going to ferment out to dry, thinking all the sugar added would produce too high level of alcohol for yeast to finish off. However, if some sugar has been lost, maybe i will be ok.
     
  7. Nov 2, 2011 #7

    Cussword

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    So,,,, Strain, add sugar (or sugar syrup), then take your starting gravity. Please tell me that's right, as I've been doing that for nearly two years :pray:
     
  8. Nov 2, 2011 #8

    Moley

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    Depends when you add your yeast, if you're fermenting on the pulp then most of the fruit sugars will already have been used up by the time you strain it, so your SG reading won't be able to take those into account.
     
  9. Nov 2, 2011 #9

    Cussword

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    So far I've never added yeast to the pulp, I've strained then started from then. Is that the wrong way, or just another way?
     
  10. Nov 2, 2011 #10

    Moley

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    Assuming that in most cases we're going to be talking about country wines from fruits, you are usually going to use either campden tablets or boiling water to kill of any bugs and wild yeasts. Your must is then going to cool down or the effects of the CTs will rapidly diminish.

    That is then going to leave you with a bucketful of sweet, fruity water.

    That is absolutely screaming out for infection, and the best way to safeguard is to infect with an organism of our own choice (winemaking yeast) as soon as the temperature is suitable or certainly within 24 hours.
     
  11. Nov 2, 2011 #11

    Cussword

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    Point taken, thanks :thumb:
     

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