Low SG and seems like low alcohol

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Nov 14, 2009
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I have been buying already crushed grapes from a local vendor who assures me that the juice is ready for fermenting as it has been balanced with whatever sugar etc it needs.
The last batch i purchased i measured the SG and it recorded 1.040 and then after fermentation and stabilizing, the sg recorded at .990. When we tested it, the alcohol level seemed very low, by taste.
The vendor assures me the level should be at 12.85%, but after drinking two glasses, i still feel that the level is actually much lower, in effect, i feel almost no effect at all.
is there a way to measure the alcohol level in the wine without taking sg readings before and after. And if the before sg level is below 1.090, is it possible that the juice has already fermented (a little) which explains the lowere sg value? otherwsie, should i add sugar and or yeast to the juice to increase the alcohol level??
With a juice pail product there is a strong chance that the juice is partly (or completely) fermented when you get it home.

The only reliable way to test for alcohol is to send a sample to a lab. You can buy a vinometer - but they're cheap, difficult to use, and totally unreliable (IMHO). You could try an alcoholmeter but the ones I have seen have a poor scale in the region that interests the home winemaker, and may not be all that reliable. I think they are better than a vinometer though.

Thanx for the quick reply.

I am guessing that the juice has already gone through some fermentation and which is why the sg level is so low, and of course the hydrometer may be giving me a false reading since i do not know what it was really measuring when they first stabilized the juice.
The vendor tells me i should expect the wine to settle at 12.85% alocohol, although when I drink it it doesn't quite feel that way, compared to store bought wine.
I am wondering whether to add some sugar, just a low amount to maybe increase the level a bit just in case they didn't do it properly.
Also, any opinion on juice pail products, is it better than concentrate kits.
13% wine sounds good to me. If you want to add more sugar, I guess that's your choice. Taste testing young wine for alcohol content seems kind of unreliable to me.

Personally I have not had success with juice pail products. But I have only made one. It was VERY WEAK, in colour and taste, although the alcohol was reasonable. The result was dumped after a few months in bottle, mainly because we oaked it, and the light taste couldn't handle the oak. It might have come around in a couple of years, but we wanted to put something drinkable in those bottles. Yep, we put the results of a good kit in them.

I am a BIG FAN of kits, especially the higher end ones (ie those that are more juice than concentrate). I'm sure that there are good juices available, but I'll probably stick with the kits.


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