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Old 11-06-2012, 02:20 AM   #1
bruceb07
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Default Dryness or Sweetness vs. Specific Gravity

Is there a rule of thumb or ranges to identify the dryness or sweetness of a wine using specific gravity? For example if I have a wine which finished at a specific gravity of 0.99. This is fairly dry. Where does the specific gravity have to be raised to to achieve a semi sweet to sweet wine??

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Old 11-06-2012, 02:49 AM   #2
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I recently saw a scale which said dry is .990 to 1.00 medium sweet is 1.00 to 1.008 and sweet is over 1.008. With that being said, I recently was drinking a white zin I thought I would test and it was a 1.10. To me I didn't consider it a particularly "sweet" wine.

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Old 11-06-2012, 04:31 PM   #3
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I have seen many different scales, but I do not know if there is an internationally agreed upon answer...here is a link to the labelling requirements per country, so you can see if each country has a specific ruling... http://www.icap.org/table/alcoholbeveragelabeling

Here is an example from the Missouri Winemaking Society Fair page for 2012...

I. DRY WINES &ndash; Wines that have virtually no residual sugar (less than 0.5%). Specific gravity is < 1.000. Wines entered in this category have complete fermentation (not stopped by intervention of the winemaker) and have not been back-sweetened.

II. OFF-DRY WINES - Used to accompany a meal&rsquo;s main course or drink by themselves. These wines are not completely dry (i.e., may be back sweetened or may have early termination of fermentation), but are too dry for a Social Wine. They have up to 1% residual sugar and less than 14% alcohol. Specific gravity is 1.000 to 1.010.

III. SOCIAL WINES - Primarily enjoyed in the evening or afternoon with snacks, but may be used with meals or any time. They typically have 1% to 4.0% unfermented sugar with less than 14% alcohol. These are commonly known as "semi-dry" or "semi-sweet" wines. Specific gravity is 1.010 to 1.025.

IV. DESSERT WINES - Full bodied, very sweet wines that are normally served at the end of a meal or with desserts or snacks. These wines contain more than 4.0% sugar and may contain over 14% alcohol. These are commonly referred to as "sweet" wines. Specific gravity is > 1.025.

V. SPECIALTY WINES - Includes sparkling (carbonated) wines, appetizer or cocktail wines (such as sherry, vermouth, Madeira and port), honey-based wines, and other wines which do not fit the other categories. A fortified wine (Port, Sherry or Madeira) is a wine that uses distilled spirits to increase alcohol level.
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This is a table from 2012 Wisconsin State Fair..

- wine with a final specific gravity of 1.002 or less is considered dry.

- wine with a final specific gravity of 1.003 to 1.010 is considered semi-sweet.

- wine with a final specific gravity above S.G.1.010 is considered sweet.

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Old 11-07-2012, 12:10 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input, the numbers fall where I would expect based on my taste but, I'm sure it is totally an individual preference. I guess thats why there are so many different types of wines out there.

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Old 11-08-2012, 01:04 PM   #5
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My limited experience suggests that sg isn't a reliable measure of sweetness. The bigger factor is the amount of sugar added. If your wine finishes dry at 0.990, it may taste sweet at 1.005. However, if the wine finished at 0.998, that same 1.005 probably won't be sweet.

I pay more attention to the amount of sg points that are added, rather than the absolute sg.

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Old 11-08-2012, 07:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff180
My limited experience suggests that sg isn't a reliable measure of sweetness. The bigger factor is the amount of sugar added. If your wine finishes dry at 0.990, it may taste sweet at 1.005. However, if the wine finished at 0.998, that same 1.005 probably won't be sweet.

I pay more attention to the amount of sg points that are added, rather than the absolute sg.
But proportionately you are adding equal ratio of sugar to reach a new SG OF 1.005 whether your FG was 0.990 or 0.998. I think the alcohol content and acidity comes into play to help you determine the final balance, you cannot just go by the adjusted FG alone. Make two batches of the exact same wine but two different alcohol contents and backsweeten to same SG and I suspect they will be quite different.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:22 PM   #7
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The best part about sweetening is that you get to decide. True about different wines and styles needing more/less/none. Draw off 4 equal small sized samples of finished wine and measure out additions into each of simple syrup. Go through each one till you find the balance you like. Scale the amount of simple syrup added to the rest of the batch and you're done.

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