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Old Philosopher

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I've searched and not found a really useful answer to this. Is there a practical way for the hobbyist to determine the alcohol content of finished wine?
Here's the scenario:
No initial SG reading was taken, so the simple math method won't work.
Here's what I've learned so far:
  1. The scales for alcohol % on 3-scale hydrometers is probably inaccurate.
  2. Comparing boiling temperatures of water vs. wine requires equipment more sophisticated than most home winemakers own.
  3. Titrating is also beyond the scope of most hobbyists.
  4. Vinometers are only reliable with dry wines, not sweet fruit wines.
So, I'm left with the feeling that the only way to analyze a batch is to drink about a liter of it, and assess the effects! :d

Any other ideas on determining the percentage of alcohol? :?
 

mmadmikes1

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If you drink it and you get drunk, it has alcohol, Ya I am a smart ***
 

arcticsid

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Old, I believe a refractometer can measure alcohol with just a drop or two of the test "subject". However as I am sure you know a hydrometer used in the begining, in the middle, and towards the end will give you a pretty "darn' close reading of the alcohol content, and also help you understand what the must is doing.

You can pick up a hydrometer for probably $10.00, a refraftometer aint gonna be that cheap. Guarantee ya.

Most hydrometers are also a thermometer. As I'm sure you realize too, temperature can really effect the fermentation, aging, and storage of your wine.

Simply put....get one! They are fragile, but be careful with it and it will last a long time. It is a necessity for making wine, and am willing to guess just as important in beeer brewing. You wouldn't want to go to a carpentry job without a tape measure, nor should you go into home brew without a hydrometer.

You could get by without one, but you need that monitoring from a hydrometer to stay in control.

Later Bro'

Troy
:b
 

Old Philosopher

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Simply put....get one! They are fragile, but be careful with it and it will last a long time. It is a necessity for making wine, and am willing to guess just as important in beeer brewing. You wouldn't want to go to a carpentry job without a tape measure, nor should you go into home brew without a hydrometer.

You could get by without one, but you need that monitoring from a hydrometer to stay in control.

Later Bro'

Troy
:b
Troy, I'm guessing you missed my post in my "mess" thread saying I'd found an hydrometer in the old wine making supplies left by my bro-in-law. So..I got one now. Problem was/is I didn't have it when I started.
I think madmike's method is cheaper than a refractometer, and a technique I'd already considered. :b
BTW: My plum "wine" is in the carboy with an air-lock at SG .999, and still bubbling. If there are any math whizzes out there who want to make a guess at my starting SG, here's my "recipe" again:
1 pound of crushed Italian plums
1 pound of sugar
1 gallon of water
(all of the above x4)
 

arcticsid

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Okay OLD, gottcha, actually LUC is the man when it comes to all those calcualtions, hopefully he can chime in and get you a pretty close guess. He often times talks about the average sugar content for a particular fruit x weight etc.

But when push comes to passing, I go with mike, pass it over here and we'll measure it.!!!LOL:D

Troy
 

Old Philosopher

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Troy, I prefer "O.P." to "Old". You don't have to keep reminding me! :D
I'd be happy to pass you a glass, but until it clears (if it ever does), you'd have to strain it through your teeth! :p
 

arcticsid

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What teeth? I am an O.P. as well.LOL:d

Clearing doesn't "necessarily" make a better wine. I have drank plenty of wine "before it's time" and it was quite fine. If it's good enough it doesn't take long, and those who are enjoying it could really care less if it is unclear. "Member the last time you drank homebrew around the campfire, the smoke got in your eyes, and some tearing happened? It was all cloudy, even at night. LMFAO:d

Troy
 

rawlus

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You can pick up a hydrometer for probably $10.00, a refraftometer aint gonna be that cheap. Guarantee ya.
OT a bit but austin homebrew has a temp-compensating refractometer on sale today only for $29.
 

Old Philosopher

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Well, I found a table on the web that says if I added 15 oz of sugar to 1 gal of water, I'd have a SG of about 1.040. That doesn't take into account any fruit in the must. But if that was close to my sugar/water ratio, my slide rule tells me I probably have about 4.76% a.b.w., or 5.7% a.b.v.
I just have to move the carboy into a cool, dark place and hope it clears a bit in my lifetime.
If there's no progress after another week, I'm thinking of trying that banana gravy trick, since I don't really like the idea of adding any chemicals to something I'm going to ingest.
 

cpfan

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OP:

Reliable and vinometer is not a combination that I believe.

Troy:

Some hydrometers have a thermometer included, but I don't recall actually seeing one. When I ran the store, I ordered at least one of nearly every hydrometer that my suppliers carried. So I can't agree with your comment that "Most hydrometers are also a thermometer". I'm in Canada, you're up in Alaska sending us that frozen weather that Americans in the lower 48 blame on Canada, so your mileage may vary.

Steve
 

Old Philosopher

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I'm in Canada, you're up in Alaska sending us that frozen weather that Americans in the lower 48 blame on Canada, so your mileage may vary.

Steve
...And Alaskans get their weather from Siberian Eskimos, so...:p
 

arcticsid

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We finally got snow today Steve. Keep it up and I'll send you some.

The hydr I bought had the SG, brix(whatever that is) and temp. I only paid like $10US for it, I guess I just assumed they all had the tripple measuring.

Regardless, as I know you agree, a hydrometer is essential.

Troy
:b
 

rawlus

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i finally broke down and bought a couple narrow-range hydrometers. a 0.098-0.010 for precise ending sg readings and a 1.060-1.130 to cover most of my starting SGs. the narrow-range ones can be much easier to read accurately as not as much info is packed into the same amt of space.
 

cpfan

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i finally broke down and bought a couple narrow-range hydrometers. a 0.098-0.010 for precise ending sg readings and a 1.060-1.130 to cover most of my starting SGs. the narrow-range ones can be much easier to read accurately as not as much info is packed into the same amt of space.
I hope you mean 0.980 to 1.010 (or something similar) cause .098 to .010 is not much good for wine making!!

Steve :D
 
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Luc

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1 pound of crushed Italian plums
1 pound of sugar
1 gallon of water
(all of the above x4)
Ok let me give this a shot.

1 gallon is 3.79 liter

1 pound = 453 gram

So we had 1 pound = 453 gram plums.
My plums gained 60% juice so that would be 271 ml juice.
My plums had an SG of 1055 being 118 gram sugar per liter.

For 271ml that would be 118 / 1000 * 271 = 32 gram sugar.

The sugar would therefore be 32 gram + 453 gram = 485 gram.

Now I start to think something will be wrong with the wine...........
because 485 gram sugar in 3.79 liter would be 128 gram per liter.

128 gram /18 = 7% alcohol !!!!!


Let us do this another way.
453 gram pure sugar added to 32 gram from the plums = 485 gram.
485 gram in 1 gallon = 128 gram per liter = SG 1.055 to 1.066.

Your initial SG was way to low.

And now I just hope that you are using US gallons for Imperial gallons you would even be far more lower !!!!.

Besides that: 1 pound plums per gallon would gain very little flavor.
This will be a flabby wine.

Luc
 
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luc, agreed as to "flabby" as i would call it "weak"

although, with a low abv, it could be more tolerable for more to be consumed, being weak and all. plums have a bit of water, so your # needs to be upwards of 5# /gallon. it's been awhile since i've looked at our recipe (4 yrs), so i'm not sure what we used. it had good flavor though.
 
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