This is the conclusion of a two part blog on how to making your fruit wines fruitier. You may want to start at the beginning with Part I.
One of the reasons you dilute fruits and their juice with water and sugar in most fruit wine recipes is because of the fruit’s acidity. If you use too much of the fruit you can end up with a wine that tastes too sharp or sour.
But wine recipes can only guess as to how much the fruit should be diluted. The fruit’s acidity can vary from year-to-year and from one variety to the next. This can make for a wide variable in these wine recipes.
But there is a way of eliminating this variable. By using an Acid Test Kit you can test the acid level of the wine and dilute the fruit with no more water than is necessary to bring it down to a drinkable/pleasant level. This means you can make the wine as strong flavored as possible from the fruit itself without making it too sharp or sour tasting.
Once you have the acidity under control with water, the next variable is the sugar. The sugar you add in the beginning as well as the sugar naturally in the fruit are fermented into alcohol. Having the right amount of sugars available to the fermentation will get you the right amount of alcohol.
Fortunately, the right amount of sugar can easily be determined by taking a quick reading with a gravity hydrometer. The gravity hydrometer measure how much sugar is in a liquid simply by how high or low it floats. Gravity hydrometers that are made specifically for wine making also have a scale on them that tells you how much alcohol that sugar can make during the fermentation. Perfect!
Armed with this information, you can forget how much sugar your wine recipes call for and add the optimal amount for that particular batch of wine made with that year’s crop of fruit.
Notice that earlier I referred to the right amount of sugar, and I didn’t say the maximum amount of sugar or the most or anything like that. That is because there is a balancing act to play with alcohol and flavor.
Having high alcohol levels in a wine will reduce the intensity of the wine’s fruit flavor. The opposite holds true as well. So if you want a fruity wine, you will not want to drive your alcohol up as high as possible. Shoot for around 10% to 11% in your fruit wine recipes.
The logic behind this principle is simple. Alcohol numbs the senses, including your taste-buds. As the alcohol level rises, so goes your ability to taste.
The last thing you can do to have a wine with more fruit flavor is sweeten the wine back a little bit before bottling. This was touched on in the previous blog, but it bares repeating. You don’t necessarily need to make the wine sweet, but bringing it away from bone-dry will help. Just remember to always add Potassium Sorbate to a wine that is being sweetened to keep it from re-fermenting.
So as you can start to see, making better wine involves taking more control over the wine recipe. Use these simple wine making tips to do so, and you will have wines that are fruitier and bursting with more flavor.
Happy Wine Making
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.