Every time I’m asked about sweetening wine, I always say the same thing:
- Ferment to dryness
- stabilize with sulfite and sorbate
- add a boiled-then-cooled sugar syrup to your desired level of sweetness
and I keep saying it because it works great: you have a lot of control and the risks (of infection or renewed fermentation) are low. But sometimes this approach doesn’t work well, like when you want a sweet bottle conditioned cider. In that case a sweetener that yeast can’t ferment, like Splenda, is just the thing. You can also use it to sweeten an ordinary still wine without having to stabilize it. To use a non-fermentable sweetener like Splenda, you first have think about how sweet to make your wine in terms of ordinary sugar.
Decide how sweet you want it
There are two approaches to deciding how much to sweeten your wine: you can “sweeten to taste” or you can use your knowledge and experience to set a specific goal (eg with this style of wine and so much acidity, I want that much residual sugar).
The “to taste” approach might be the way to go if you’re on unfamiliar ground. Maybe you’ve never made a mead before and you’re having trouble getting specific guidance on how much sugar (or honey, or something else) to add. You might take several samples and sweeten them by different amounts, let them rest for a month or so, then compare them. Or you might start sweetening the entire batch by some amount (10 g/L, say) letting it rest then tasting it. Up the amount by a little more (5 g/L maybe) and repeat until you get it just the way you like it.
If, on the other hand, you’re making a style of wine that has been thoroughly researched, you might have a concrete goal in mind.
Either way, you’ll come to some specific sugar concentration – for a series of bench trials, for the starting point in a longer iterative process, or because you have determined the final residual sugar that you want. Once you have that sugar concentration, that amount of sugar for whatever volume of wine you’re dealing with, you can use it to determine how much Splenda you need.
|Granulated Splenda, 1.2 lb Bag, Sweetens like 10 lb of sugar|
Convert to an equivalent amount of Splenda
It’s not as straightforward as it should be to convert an amount of sugar to an amount of Splenda. First of all, the company does not provide weight to weight conversions (you know, so many grams of sugar to one gram of Splenda for the same sweetness). They do provide volume conversions. More than one, in fact. The “granulated Splenda” that comes in boxes and is meant for cooking is volume-equivalent to table sugar. So one cup of sugar would be about as sweet as one cup of granulated Splenda, but one cup of the Splenda that comes in packets, that you might use for coffee, would be much sweeter.
Since granulated Splenda is meant to be measured and converted from sugar, that’s what I’ll talk about in this article. If you’d rather use the packets, you’ll need to contact McNeil Nutritionals, which sells Splenda in the USA, and ask them how (it’s not on the package).
Since it’s meant to be substituted for an equal volume of sugar, that’s what we’ll do. You can refer to this page of sugar info to convert sugar amounts from weight to volume. Then measure out the same volume of granulated Splenda. Ok the tricky part is over, now we can take our measured amount of Splenda and sweeten our wine just as we would with sugar.
Make a syrup and add to the wine
The best way to add most things to your wine is by dissolving them and adding them as a solution. With sugar, or Splenda, that means making a syrup in exactly the same way you’d make a sugar syrup.
It makes sense to use sugar in ordinary situations because it’s cheaper and doesn’t require conversions. Sometimes you need a non-fermentable sweetener, though, and this is the right tool for the job.
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