Last Saturday, a home winemaker asked me about how to make the Muscadine wine he made just a little sweeter. He said the wine fermented out dry and that he added enough sugar at the beginning to give him 12% alcohol.
I complimented him on the fact that his wine fermented dry. That’s a good sign that he didn’t add too much sugar! It is important that wines ferment out dry in order for the wine yeast to convert all of the sugar to alcohol and then to go dormant and fall out of suspension, as evidenced by the build-up of sediment on the bottom of the fermenter. After the wine is racked, sulfited with Campden tablets and stabilized with Potassium Sorbate, the wine will naturally clear as time passes. Remember, Time is the Secret Ingredient for Making Good Wine!
One of the most popular things to use to back sweeten (the act of sweetening wine AFTER stabilization) wine is Wine Conditioner, which is available at Barley and Vine. By adding half of a bottle at a time, mixing well, and allowing to settle overnight, you can taste the wine and decide if the sweetness is where it needs to be. If more is needed, the second half is added, stirred in well, and allowed to settle overnight. The process is repeated until the wine is perfect!
An alternative to the wine conditioner is to use is the “Grape Concentrate”. If you are making Muscadine wine, consider using the Red Grape Concentrate, because it will enhance the color, add dimension and complexity to the finished wine. For our friends making Scuppernong wine, consider trying the White Grape Concentrate to back-sweeten your Scuppernong wine. This will add body, the right amount of sweetness and complexity to your Scuppernong Wine. Also if you are making any other light colored fruit country wines, the White Grape Concentrate would add an enhanced dimension to your finished wine. Again, add just a cup or two each adjustment, because it’s easier to add more, than to…
SOMETHING TO TRY WITH YOUR MUSCADINE WINE… Joe the Plumber dropped off a bottle of his Muscadine Wine for me to taste and give feedback. He used MA-33 Wine Yeast and added enough sugar at the start to give the wine 12% alcohol. The MA-33 Wine Yeast reduced the natural acidity nicely. There was just a hint of sweetness that balanced out the slight tartness naturally found in Muscadine Wine. After carefully tasting the wine, I found an interesting combination of flavors; Blueberry’s and Strawberry’s… This was a refreshing “find” that really made me ponder the possibilities. A few weeks later, I was visiting a winery in Cleveland, Georgia and made a point of tasting the Muscadine and Scuppernong wines. The Muscadine was a bit sweet, but balanced our the tart acidity in the wine ( Let’s keep our secret about the MA-33 wine yeast OUR secret! ) the Scuppernong was true-to-form, but a bit tart for my liking. The real “Find” was the ‘ol Blue Wine. This was a blend of 80% Muscadine with 20% Blueberries. This was delicious, high lighting both the natural Muscadne flavors and tastefully framed by the flavor of fresh blueberry’s! Hmmm… consider picking up a 49oz. can of Blueberry Puree and add during the secondary to re-reserve the fresh Blueberry flavor. The 49oz can makes a good 1 gallon batch of Blueberry wine. That works out to roughly 20% of the 5-6 gallon batch! I purchased a bottle of ‘ol Blue ( for $20 ) because I liked it so much! Possibly at our next “Country Wine Tasting” you’ll have a chance to try a taste of ‘ol Blue! Or maybe you’ll have already tried this and can share the results!