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Brix and Blending Questions

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iridium

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I have the opportunity to purchase small lots of wine grapes grown in WA. There are a lot of varieties so excited about that. I have two questions about making wine from grapes. (Okay way more than two, but two I would like help with immediately).

1. What is the difference between Brix and SG? I know that Brix measures the sugar content of the grapes. I also know that picking grapes at various Brix levels can lead to different results. However, I do not control when the grapes are picked. I get the Brix information but I have to go with when the third party picks the grapes. Given that, should I just worry about my starting SG for my own purposes and records?

2. I am thinking of making a blended wine. I am sure it matters completed when you blend the varietals (pre-fermentation, post fermentation, after aging, right before bottling, etc.). The question is whether there is a best practice or standard such as never blend before fermentation or something like that.

Any advice/information would be helpful. Thank you!
 

franc1969

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Specific gravity is a density measurement, for us essentially sugar in water with some other solids. Brix is sugar levels measured from fruit, with a refractometer. I guess- I have never been able to read one- eyes, glasses, brain problem... For any easy comparison of Brix and Specific Gravity - most hydrometers have them on different sides, just rotate. An app like FermCalc will also tell you the equivalent reading. Brix reading is not useful after alcohol is involved, so that's why you keep track of your SG at the start and through fermentation, down to finished dry wine at less dense than water. (<1.000) Brix for determining how ripe, SG for fermenting.

Blended wines- search threads here /Google for combinations people have used. I keep a listing of blends from wine labels and rough percentages, so I can try some things later. Some people do a field blend at fermentation, some blend soon after or after aging, some do a blending and bench test just before bottling. Your call- there isn't any 'correct' way, just what you like or can do at a particular time.
Sometimes it comes down to filling a vessel to the top, or having the grapes at the same time, can't do a field blend if not similar harvest dates. Or aging some of your wine with oak, some not.


What varietals and quantities are you looking at? Experienced people might have more ideas for you. I'm still at early learning stage myself.
 

BernardSmith

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Very loosely, Brix is a quarter of SG so a Brix of 22 is about 1.090 and a Brix of 25 is just over 1.100 (I think it is 1.006, but as I say, "loosely")
 

Rice_Guy

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2) blends? many of us live with them and the main difference is do you call it? ? “whapatouli” ? or Pinot noir ? or pandemic red? All food is hedonic and the name on the package is basically marketing to set up an expectation of what is inside the box.
Your job as a vinter is to understand the process and make the grape the best it can be! ,,, example, winery an hour away buys juice by the tanker truck based on what was harvested and the variety in the bottle this year or last year is never declared to the public, ,,, or my job in the food plant was to understand the raw material enough so that we could sell the same product this year as ten years ago

1) @franc1969 good answer.,,,, Brix and specific gravity is the same thing in two different languages, ,,, it is like saying honey I love you with a kiss or by making her breakfast 🥰
 

salcoco

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brix and sg for all pratical purposes are the same measurement of sugar in the grapes. you can Google tables that compare the two reading nominally 22 brix is equal to about 1.092 sg or about 12% abv refractometer are now made to give you both scales . sg is measured with a hydrometer. refractometer can be used during fermentation there are conversion calculations spreadsheets on the net that can give you the conversion to sg. I like using refractometer as it only takes one drop of liquid for a measurement.
as for blending the best is to blend each varietal separately . each have there own requirement for acid ,sugar and tannin. once aged begin the sampling process for blending. in this manner each grape is fermented to its fullest potential, and then blended under your control versus a crap shot if you mix before fermentation. you also have the added advantage of bottling the varietals on a singular basis gaining three wine from two varietals.
 

iridium

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Thank you all good information. I was thinking about blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I was also thinking of getting merlot and trying to make a rose.

Fortunately I have a couple weeks to decide.
 

salcoco

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actually a blend of three would also work
 

knockabout

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I do agree with salcoco above here's my take
1. In my head it works like this BRIX is when the viticulturist decides to pick. MY SG tells me if I need to add sugar as well as ABV when wine is done fermenting -just easier for me to calculate.
2. I prefer to ferment wines separately with different yeasts so I can blend later and end up with a more complex wine and correct faults if needed -I usually do save some non blended to try later on -for educational purposes and as mentioned by salcoco, that way you can try 3 different wiseness while starting out its a way to learn as much as possible.
 

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