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Did I Ruin My Wine With Too Much Sugar?

SunCal Vineyards ConcentrateDear Kraus --

I have started 5 gals. of wine using your SunCal concentrate along with 6 ½ lbs. of sugar and one pack of wine yeast. It has been fermenting for 3 weeks. I have racked it and checked it with a hydrometer. It had a reading of about .995 SG. When It started it was at 1.075. That is enough sugar to make 10% alcohol. I then added 2 lbs more of sugar and another pack of yeast. Now it has stopped fermenting.  Is the batch ruined or what can I do to start it back to fermenting.

Please help,
Fred D.

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Hello Fred,

If you followed the homemade wine instructions that comes with the can of SunCal Vineyards concentrate, it calls for 6-1/2 pounds of sugar. As you have stated, this will end up making a wine that has 10 percent alcohol. I can only assume that you added 2 more pounds after the fermentation for the purpose of raising the finished alcohol level of the wine.

A simple way to see if you were successful is to take another gravity hydrometer reading. If the yeast was able to get the wine brewing, your specific gravity reading should, again, be back down to about .995. If the yeast wasn't able to get the wine brewing again, you will have a reading around 1.010.
 
You might like to know that the 2 pounds of sugar you added to this 5 gallon batch of wine, increased the potential alcohol of the wine by roughly 2 percent--that is if the sugars are fermented into alcohol.

This touches upon one of my wine making tips:

"For every pound of sugar you add to a 5 gallon batch of wine, you increase the potential alcohol by 1 percent".

Technically, this is not exactly correct, but it is very, very close. Also notice I use the word "potential." Just because you add more sugar does not mean the yeast will automatically be able to convert it into alcohol. As the alcohol level of a wine increases, so does the difficulty level for the wine yeast in fermenting. If one is not careful they can end up with a wine that is disgustingly sweet.

For more information on making higher-alcohol wines, I suggest you read over the following two articles listed on our website, "Making High Alcohol Wines" and "How Much Alcohol Do You Really Want".

Happy Wine Making
Customer Service
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

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Comments (2)

Name: Michael
Time: Saturday, May 12, 2012

Any advice on using confectioners sugar for fermenting? And/or adding a fraction of total sugar called for by the recipe at one time, ie adding 1/3 total sugar called for three separate times.

Name: Customer Service
Time: Saturday, May 12, 2012

Michael, we do not recommend confectioners sugar wine making wine. The primary reason is because of the additional ingredients that are in along with the sugar to help it flow better and/or assist in various baking processes.

As to your second question, we do not recommend dosing you sugars in thirds. There is no advantage to it. If your goal is to get as much alcohol as possible, then you should add enough sugar to gain 13% of alcohol and then feed more sugar to the wine must in small increments every time the fermentation consumes all the previous sugars. This requires that you monitor the fermentation closely with a hydrometer.

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