Pressing grapes early (for port-style wine)

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Jan 11, 2022
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St. Paul, MN
Hi all,

I'm making a port-style wine this season from Frontenac grapes. I will be stopping fermentation by adding spirits in order to preserve the sugar, rather than fermenting it dry and sweetening. I don't want to fortify the wine until it's pressed, so the alcohol doesn't get soaked up by the skins. Is there any reason I can't press at 1.030 or so? I'm planning on cold soaking for a few days to try to get the extra grape skin contact. The reason I'm considering pressing early is that I don't want to have to press the grapes in the middle of the night if that's when my sugar content is where I want it to be. I'd much rather just have to add my pre-measured spirits.

I suspect the SG won’t drop that significantly unless the temperatures are up. So one option is to cool down your must if you can’t press right away.

I would suggest that waiting until it’s dry is not the catastrophe you may expect. I’ve made ports for at least the last 5 years and I add spirits when I get to it. I’m not sure but I recall seeing instructions that call for waiting until the SG is 1.005, so you may be making an ultra sweet port.

Another option is to add store bought syrups with flavorings to bump up the flavor.

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