Alcohol to stabilize wine?

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by OlegCS, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. OlegCS

    OlegCS Junior

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    1
    As far as I understand, a sign of the end of secondary fermentation is when all sugar is consumed. My question is if it is possible/makes sense to add alcohol to wine to stabilize it if you want sweet wine?
     
  2. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Still getting started at 26 batches & 2 1./2 years Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,376
    Likes Received:
    565
    Based on the nature of your most recent questions I believe that you would be better served by finding some good books on wine making, Ignore you-tube videos, especially if they do not use basic equipment like hydrometers and pH testing meters or ta test kit. They are likely to practice a very loose version of wine making that does not take into account some of the more significant elements of wine making that provide for consistent result. Essentially they may much closer to the sort beverage making practices 'demonstrated' on the show M.A.S.H. than the wine making the majority of folks on this site do. While not all you tube videos are of this sort, to a beginner, it's hard to detect the significant differences even if they show large wine making projects in the background. Especially avoid those that lack any mention of chemicals for balancing and/or stabilizing wines or if they consider a balloon a standard airlock.

    This may sound a bit picky or hard nosed but, despite comments we make to each other on here about different methods to make a good wine, it's safest and most reliable to stick to tried and true wine making techniques before venturing off into the fringes cultures of wine making. Likewise Most reliable and trustworthy recipes will include use of store purchase Wine Yeasts as well as testing of the SG before during and at the end of fermentation and pH or TA testing before and at the end of fermentation.

    We try to provide some basic guidance to beginning wine makers but it's really best if you do a healthy amount of reading regarding standard home wine making from sources with a solid background in the art. And avoid leaning too heavily on any guide book with the word 'Dummies' in the title. (Read the reviews of such books carefully and you will see the delicate references to shortfalls of such books.) You can only simplify wine making just so much. And books that delve really really deeply into the chemical reactions that occur in wine making, (Multiple chapters) make good winter-time reading but can confuse a beginner. Knowing all about the chemical processes is important but pages and pages and pages of molecular charts of wine and various chemical compounds might be a bit too heavy reading for starting out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  3. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    18
    To answer the original question, yes you can use alcohol to stabilize a sweetened wine, however its no longer a wine at that point its basically a port. You have to bring the alcohol level up to at least 18% to 20% to ensure that any yeast present are dead and to provide biological stability. You will need to add a lot of sugar otherwise the wine will be extremely hot and out of balance. To make table wine you do not want to use this method.
     
  4. Doug’s wines

    Doug’s wines Making (or Drinking) Wine

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2017
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    30
    Hi @OlegCS , as @wxtrendsguy points out, using alcohol in this manner is making what’s called fortified wine of which port is a good example (others include sherry, Madeira, Marsala, etc). If you are interested in that style of wine, I would follow one of those recipes, however they usually require you to stabilize your wine anyway before fortifying. Another alternative that you may or may not be aware of to get a sweeter result is called backsweetening. This is adding sweetener (usually simple syrup) after you fully stabilize the wine. The wine must be fully stabilized otherwise you risk restarting fermentation and potentially exploding bottles which I believe may be why @Scooter68 suggested further research as this could be a dangerous situation depending on your experience level. There are many good books (as pointed out by @Scooter68), but there are also a number of good posts on this site and other wine blog sites online regarding back sweetening if you are just looking for a quick answer to this one question.
     
  5. OlegCS

    OlegCS Junior

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    1
    Scooter68, wxtrendsguy, and Doug's wines, thank you all for your comments. I very much respect and appreciate your suggestions. I completely understand your points and agree that I need to get a good book to grasp fundamental concepts. Now, one problem. My wife is very much into organic food. If there are any chemicals than she is not going to drink it and I do not drink alone. This causes me to seek old fashion methods to make wine when chemicals were not available. Any suggestions for my situation?
     
  6. sour_grapes

    sour_grapes Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2013
    Messages:
    7,372
    Likes Received:
    3,985
    I suppose an option is to add sugar just before consuming the wine. Otherwise, your suggestion of making a fortified wine is a fine one.

    Another option, albeit expensive, is to invest in ultrafiltration equipment. If you can reliably filter down to a fraction of a micron, you can filter out any remaining yeast. (Google "sterile filtration.")
     
  7. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Still getting started at 26 batches & 2 1./2 years Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,376
    Likes Received:
    565
    Essentially it is possible to make wine without most or all common chemicals we use BUT as Sour_Grapes states part of that would require the use of an expensive filtration system normally used only at commercial wineries and by those with deep pockets (Both Equipment and Supplies costs)
    Chances are if your wife has had any commercial wine, she has already consumed the typical chemicals used in home wine making.

    Chemical Free Wine - This is not a new topic - it has come up multiple times in the 2 1/2 years I've been a member on this forum. The end result of discussions doesn't change. Wine made without basic wine preservation and stabilization chemicals typically doesn't taste as good and even with the use of ultrafiltration equipment the 'natural wines' spoil much faster. Alcohol alone cannot completely protect wines from spoilage.
    Then there is also the problem of a wine batch that develops issues during fermentation or aging. The chemicals used there may well run smack into your wife's no chemicals ban.

    Not trying to discourage you but the reality it that even commercial wineries have to deal with the occasional batch that develops some off characteristics. They may treat their wine or dump it but for us in the home wine making hobby, dumping is a last resort - there are ways to save most batches but they frequently require the use of some chemicals. Commercial "Natural Wines" (No chemicals used) can be found but most folks who have had them report them to be much less enjoyable wines. Couple of reasons for this is the lack of any added sugars to back-sweeten them and the fact that since they spoil faster, aging them to a point where the flavor improves cannot not be done - the wine spoils before it ages sufficiently.
     
  8. OlegCS

    OlegCS Junior

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question. Adding sugar before drinking is not an option. Totally kills the romance :). As far as sterile filtration - I already purchased Buon Vino pump and a set of filters. #3 is 0.5 microns. I hope it will work. I could add a small amount of vodka but I'd like to avoid it if possible.
     
  9. OlegCS

    OlegCS Junior

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2018
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    1
    Scooter68, I completely understand your point and "I am on your side" here. I am afraid that a chemical free wine is a dead end hobby. If this means the wine (country wine) that I make would have to be consumed pretty young then so be it. I just hope that a combination of methods such as ultra fine filtration, small amount of vodka prior to bottling, and keeping it refrigerated would allow making fruit wine and be able to store it at least 6 months. Do you think it's realistic or I am about to spoil a bunch of nice fruit?
     
  10. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Still getting started at 26 batches & 2 1./2 years Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Messages:
    1,376
    Likes Received:
    565
    I wouldn't 'pollute' any home-made wine with vodka. You can use a yeast that will give you up to 18% ABV but adding vodka is really just something I wouldn't recommend. More alcohol just isn't going to do much at all to keep the wine from spoiling. Any ABV above 10% provides about as much alcohol protection as you need. The higher the ABV the hotter and less tasty the wine. Just filter well since you have the equipment, sanitize well and often, and try to make sure your wines start the fermentation as balanced as possible, The two things you will not be able to overcome with vodka, sugar or any additive natural or otherwise is the sharpness of a new wine and the gas in new wine. The latter can be dealt with, in part , by using an AIO or a healthy amount of splash racking.

    Note that some of the "Chemicals" used are naturally occurring things and not man-made things. Even Bentonite is a naturally occurring volcanic ash. So I would involve the other half in the decisions about which "Chemicals" she can live with and which she cannot. Unfortunately the best and most common one she will no doubt say no to is a key one - potassium metabisulfite (K-Meta is the common abbreviation used on the boards). Potassium Sorbate is the other chemical used in conjunction with K-Meta. They are the two that protect the wine the most after you reach the 10% plus ABV.
    Good Luck.
     
  11. sour_grapes

    sour_grapes Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2013
    Messages:
    7,372
    Likes Received:
    3,985
    Yet another sweetening possibility is a non-fermentable sugar. Glycerol is one possibility, which your SO may deem acceptable. Other possibilities are the sweeteners such as xylitol, stevia, and splenda. Xylitol is found naturally, so she may go for that.
     

Share This Page