hist-brewing: Historical Wine Sweetening

Beth Ann Snead ladypeyton at yahoo.com
Sun May 28 14:09:30 PDT 2000

--- "Mills, Scott" <Scott.Mills at COMPAQ.com> wrote:

> There are period references  (Digbie, etc.) of
> adding sugar to wines to
> sweeten then sometimes after the primary ferment. 
> But unless you are trying
> to closely follow a period recipes I think there are
> better ways to get it
> done.
> IMHO the best way is to simply know your yeast and
> it's alcohol tolerance.
> Take an original gravity reading of you must and
> adjust accordingly.  
> you have the OG and therefore the potential alcohol
> of the raw must you can
> choose a yeast that with the appropriate alcohol
> tolerance that will leave
> the desired amount of residual sugar/sweetness for
> you.  With my meads I
> will often adjust my OG up by adding more honey, or
> down by diluting with
> water until I get it to a point where I know the
> yeast will leave the amount
> of sugar that I desire.

In mead this may work wonders but mead and wine are
two entirely different animals.  Most often when sugar
and/or water is added to a fruit must it is part of
the process of  adjusting an acid content that is
either too high, ot too low.  The only fruit with a
perfect acid level for winemaking is the grape.  Every
other fruit needs to be adjusted to get the best

> If you want something more sweet don't be afraid to
> use an Ale yeast on your
> wines.  

But then, by definition you don't end up with wine. 
You end up with a beverage whose alcohol content is
entirely too low to be called wine since the ale yeast
will die much too early.  Often you end up with a
beverage whose alcohol content is too low to even
survive the aging process that many fruit wines need
to be well done.

I like a sweet cider and most "wine" yeasts
> just leave the cider way
> to dry for me.  Therefore I most often us American
> Ale "Chico" yeast to
> ferment my ciders so that I get the residual
> sweetness that I wan't. 

OTOH using an ale yeast on a cider is entirely
acceptable because the lower alcohol content is
exactly what you want.  If you raised the alcohol
content to the 12-14% area then you's have an apple
wine not an apple cider.
> To my mind all fermented fruit is a wine.  Cider is
> an apple wine, perry is
> a pear wine, there is peach, strawberry, and of
> course grape wines, etc.
> etc. etc.  I also consider mead a wine.  To me these
> are all wines
> regardless of their final alcohol content.  

The difference between cider and wine is alcohol
content, athough there is an argument to be made for
filtered vs. unfiltered juices.  Whereas wine can be
made from either, it's extremely frowned upon to make
cider form a filtered juice.

BUT, all fermened fruit is NOT wine..and in my
personal opinion mead is not wine either, but its own
separate class of beverage. 
> Likewise in my mind all fermented grain is a beer
> regardless if that is
> barley, oats, wheat, rye, rice, etc.   

Again, not so.  Sake is NOT a beer.  I make a pure
barley wine (not the modern definition, but a pure
wine made out of barley and sugar)
I;ve experimented with rye and in each of these cases
the resultant beverage was as ,far from beer as mead

And what about vegetable wines?  I've made wine out of
parsnip, potato, carrot and even turnip and these are
all a fairly starchy vegetable (well, except for the
Beth Ann Snead
Lady Lettice Peyton
Companion of the Maunche and Master Vintner in the
East Kingdom's Brewer's Guild in the SCA
Also fermentor of everything she could get her hands on

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