Back sweetening

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Hillcapper

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My wife and I did our first wine making with a Riesling kit. It went very well and turned out great. After clarification stage was over we gave it a try. Despite adding the sweetner supplied with the kit during the last rack I called it off dry. I could deal with it but needed to be semi-sweet for my wife to really enjoy it. So we did the 1/4 cup method and added ML‘s of simple syrup to arrive at a level of sweetness we could both enjoy. Then did the math and backsweetened during another rack. Couple of weeks later and no sign of secondary (or actually 3rd!) fermentation we bottled it. I did lose about 1% ABV with the back sweetening so finished at 11%. I guess acceptable for a Riesling?
Is there a measurable way to sweeten more during the fermentation process that will get sweetness where we’d like so we don’t lose ABV? I realize adding sugar will increase ABV, I think.

Thanks
 

nodor

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Fermentation is the opposite of sweetening.

yeast eats sugar and produces alc,
Adding more sugar when fermenting is only gonna increase alc. Until you overdose the yeast and it dies.
that could be upwards of 18% alc. I ferment dry ( .990 or so) then back sweeten. Using a sample I use dextrose until I find the sweetness I want. Then measure the S.G. Do the calc. for the amount to add to the main batch and add 75% of that amount. Check the S.G. ad add more dextrose till I get to the S.G. of the sample.
This way i'm not diluting the alc.
Hopefully this makes sense to you.
 

Hillcapper

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Fermentation is the opposite of sweetening.

yeast eats sugar and produces alc,
Adding more sugar when fermenting is only gonna increase alc. Until you overdose the yeast and it dies.
that could be upwards of 18% alc. I ferment dry ( .990 or so) then back sweeten. Using a sample I use dextrose until I find the sweetness I want. Then measure the S.G. Do the calc. for the amount to add to the main batch and add 75% of that amount. Check the S.G. ad add more dextrose till I get to the S.G. of the sample.
This way i'm not diluting the alc.
Hopefully this makes sense to you.
I understand fermentation but hadn’t thought that all the way through. Adding sugar will increase ABV but not add sweetness since the yeast consumes the sugar. Thanks for that reminder.

I don’t understand how back sweetening can be done without lowering ABV. You are replacing some volume of the wine with the sweetener, right? I can understand starting with a higher SG intentionally then bringing it in range with the back sweetening. Is that what you mean? Or am I just worrying too much about losing a percent or so of ABV%? Rieslings are typically 12-13%, right?
Thanks all!
 

nodor

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When your yeast has consumed most all of the sugar it starts to die off and settle. By adding postasium sorbate you prevent the yeast from budding hense it is unable to multiply and consume the added sugar. Leaving your wine sweeter.
This is a very basic explanation. Kepp reading this forum and you will find better explanations of what and why things happen but the above is pretty much the result.
 
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I don’t understand how back sweetening can be done without lowering ABV.
You can't, but don't worry about it, as the difference is not significant.

Consider starting with 23 liters of wine at 11.0% ABV. Add 1 liter sugar syrup (which is a LOT of sugar, but it's an example) and the new volume is 24 liters. The ratio 23/24 = 0.9583.

Multiply that by 11% to get the new ABV: 10.54%

The drop is less than 0.5%.

If you added 2 cups of sugar syrup, the drop is even less.
 

Rice_Guy

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* home wine makers don’t have a lot of choices, K sorbate is reliable so “normal”
* dry basically means there are lots of grams of acid which overwhelms your taste buds, all the posts about chilling to remove tartrates or running MLF drops the grams of acid so the perceived sweetness is higher. NOTE wine is a preservative system, ,,, increasing the pH can cause infection
* cider folks will pasteurize, and I have done 140F with refermentation problems
* refrigeration will slow fermentation, if you had a walk in cooler you could just chill it when it’s at target sweetness
* there are low alcohol yeast in the beer world, I have only played enough to say “wow this one foams over the primary” ,,,, industry wise the wine would be chilled to 5C > yeast settled and centrifuged > a high dose of SO2 added
* kits are made to be reliable and taste “normal” for the US market. Putting changes in increases risk.
 

hounddawg

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My wife and I did our first wine making with a Riesling kit. It went very well and turned out great. After clarification stage was over we gave it a try. Despite adding the sweetner supplied with the kit during the last rack I called it off dry. I could deal with it but needed to be semi-sweet for my wife to really enjoy it. So we did the 1/4 cup method and added ML‘s of simple syrup to arrive at a level of sweetness we could both enjoy. Then did the math and backsweetened during another rack. Couple of weeks later and no sign of secondary (or actually 3rd!) fermentation we bottled it. I did lose about 1% ABV with the back sweetening so finished at 11%. I guess acceptable for a Riesling?
Is there a measurable way to sweeten more during the fermentation process that will get sweetness where we’d like so we don’t lose ABV? I realize adding sugar will increase ABV, I think.

Thanks
every wine i have ever made after long bulk aging and just before bottling i add dry sugar stirring using a carboy stirrer attached to a cordless drill. after back sweetening check for 3 days making sure your SG stays the same,
Dawg
 

hounddawg

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choose your yeast to get the alcohol tolerance you want, beyond that the alcohol will not allow referment,
Dawg

EDIT,, make sure to monitor your SG for 3 days of no movement before bottling,,,
 
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choose your yeast to get the alcohol tolerance you want, beyond that the alcohol will not allow referment,
Dawg

That can be a dangerous thing to do. That alcohol tolerance is a average value. you might get some yeast labeled for 14% that for some reason decides to work extra hard and still work at 17 or 18% abv.
 

BigDaveK

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Is there a measurable way to sweeten more during the fermentation process that will get sweetness where we’d like so we don’t lose ABV? I realize adding sugar will increase ABV, I think.
Older recipes advised adding more sugar at the beginning to get a "sweet" wine. As I recall it was about an extra half pound of sugar per gallon. Each batch is different and there are uncontrollable variables (like weather) so simply adding more sugar is unreliable. That's why we back sweeten.
 

hounddawg

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That can be a dangerous thing to do. That alcohol tolerance is a average value. you might get some yeast labeled for 14% that for some reason decides to work extra hard and still work at 17 or 18% abv.
true enough, hence the the reason to check SG for a 3 day no change,
as for me, lol. i only keep EC-1118 & K1V-1116, with enough fruit/berry, back sweetening and long aging, it gets very smooth,
Dawg
 
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My son & I assembled a port-style wine yesterday. We took 3 bottles each of our two 2021 barrel aged wines, added 500 ml 151 proof EverClear (strongest available in NC), and 3/4 cup sugar. We were unsure of the sweetness, so we put it in jugs to meld for a few days, then we'll taste again.

I used Pearson's Square to determine the amount of EverClear to achieve 20% ABV. The addition of table sugar (not syrup) will change the volume a bit, but not enough to matter. This wine is both above 18% ABV and bulk aged for 12 months, so no sorbate is necessary.
 
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