I make wine out of many different fruits and vegetables – from raspberries to rhubarb and all sorts of things in between. That makes for a lot of trial and error as I learn how to consistently make a good wine using very different bases. Many traditional country wine recipes call for a small amount of fruit, a lot of water, enough sugar for 12% alcohol, and acid to balance. You can make (and I have made) good wine this way, and it’s a real money saver. Still, adding a lot of water bothers me and some of the wines I’ve made this way seemed to suffer for it.
That made me wonder what would happen if I used more fruit. What about all fruit and no water? I’m trying this with cherry wine right now, and the first problem I had was in managing the acids. The titratable acidity (TA) of my cherry wine will be high, and that’s something I’ll need to address the next time I make it. I’m working on some ideas, but in the meantime I’ve decided to sweeten the cherry wine. I’ll be trying to balance the acid with sugar and make a drinkable wine out of it.
Learning to make good sweet wine by making good dry wine
I wrote about how to rescue bad wine with sugar on Monday, and the reason this works is also the reason I usually make my wines dry. That might seem strange; if sugar can save bad wines, why can’t it improve any wine? Used correctly, it probably can. Sweet things taste good to all of us, that’s just human physiology. But sugar can mask faults in a wine, and that’s why I stay away from it while I’m learning and experimenting. I need to be able to see the problems in order to fix them. When I understand what I’m doing with a particular wine well enough to make a good one consistently, then I’ll think about making a sweet or off-dry wine.
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