Starting Specific Gravity

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Becks the Elder

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Hi,

I am about to start the batch of Elderberry Wine which was discussed last week [See my "Intended Elderberry Recipe" post] but before I do I need to clarify issues surrounding the starting specific gravity of the must.

According to the guidebook I am using (Berry, 1996 – See earlier post for details) it is suggested that “A good general rule is that a really dry wine will often need a starting specific gravity of about 1.085, a medium sweet wine one of about 1.100, and a really sweet wine of up to 1.125.”

According to the SG Table (p.81) a SG of 1085 will give a potential 11.3% ABV. I was hoping to get an ABV of 12-14% while ensuring that I ended up with a dry to very dry wine (anything else tastes too sweet to me).

I have settled on adding:

Elderberries (Dried - 300g)
Raisins (250g)
White Granulated Sugar 1Kg

To 1 Imp. Gallon (4.5 ltrs.) of Water.

So should I adjust the recipe to get a starting SG of 1085 or should I just make the recipe and record the SG and then ‘ferment out’ to dry?

Will any recipe eventually ‘ferment out’ to produce dry wine providing you avoid causing the yeast to suffer from ‘sugar shock’? …Or is there an SG / sugar saturation point above which you only produce sweeter and sweeter wine?

According to the SG / Potential ABV Table (p.81) It seems that the more sugar you use the higher potential ABV you have but does the residual ‘sweetness’ increase alongside the rise in ABV or can it be ‘fermented out’? I presume it is possible to produce a very strong dry wine but if so why does Berry state that “a really dry wine will often need a starting specific gravity of about 1.085” ?

Sorry if these seem like rather stupid questions but I just need to get things straight in my head before I start on the must.

Cheers.
 

Racer

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An increase in starting sg. will give you a higher abv. if the yeast you use can ferment that high of a starting sg. in the first place.
Sweetness only comes into play if you dont have all the sugar converted before the yeast die out on you. You should be able to find a good yeast to ferment all the way to dryness with starting sg.'s that can be as high as 15-16% abv. That kind of alchohol content usually makes for an out of balance wine unless your making a BIG block buster cab. or zin though.
If you are looking to make a sweet wine you should plan to ferment to dry first, then clear and stabilize the wine,and then backsweeten.
 

Wade E

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I totally agree with the above pst. Add the amount of sugar to raise the sg to the amount of the abv you are looking for and use a yeast strain that will cover this spread with a little extra to make sure you ferment dry. In other words, if you want a finished abv of 14%, dont use a yeast strain with a max threshold of 14% as they sometimes quit a little bit early.
 

Becks the Elder

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Thanks guys, That sorts things out for me. I think I will aim for a starting SG of about 1100 and ferment out to dry. Maybe the Berry book is just too old to be of use for the very specific type of wines I want to make. Isn't the internet a brilliant thing! Thanks for the advice.

Cheers!
 

arcticsid

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Luc may be the guy to chime in before you get to going, he often speaks of elderberry wine and may be able to help you as well.
 

Wade E

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Elderberry will hide a good amount of abv as will Black Currant but I wouldnt want you to use this starting sg for a strawberry wine or something like that which can make the flavor get lost very easily.
 

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