proper way to back sweetened wine?

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Big_Cat

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Do you add wine to diluted sugar or diluted sugar to wine. I mean is it like in beer where you pour your diluted water into a container (carboy/bucket /etc) and rack the brew on top or do you just pour the sweetner on top of the wine and just gently stir?
 

TedLarsen

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Avoiding aeration is always key. I think if you habitually rack onto something (sugar, fruit, etc),rather than pouring, you will have a better chance of avoiding introducing oxygen.
 

WVMJ

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Usually we rack the clear wine into a bottling bucket, measure the specific gravity, give it a taste and decide how sweet we want to make it. Then add dry sugar directly to the wine and use a drill mounted stirring rod to get the sugar into solution - avoiding aerating it by keeping the stirrer on the bottom of the bucket and using a low speed. Taste and measure SG again. Once it is to the taste we want then we add Potassium Metablisulfite and Potassium Sorbate, dont add them before taste testing or you will taste the sulfite before it has had a chance to bind to things in the wine. WVMJ
 
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Big_Cat

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Usually we rack the clear wine into a bottling bucket, measure the specific gravity, give it a taste and decide how sweet we want to make it. Then add dry sugar directly to the wine and use a drill mounted stirring rod to get the sugar into solution - avoiding aerating it by keeping the stirrer on the bottom of the bucket and using a low speed. Taste and measure SG again. Once it is to the taste we want then we add Potassium Metablisulfite and Potassium Sorbate, dont add them before taste testing or you will taste the sulfite before it has had a chance to bind to things in the wine. WVMJ
Interesting ... I usually make a syrup with the sugar and sterile water .I take a pre reading to get an SG then add sulfite to kill my yeast and not change the must gravity. I wait 24 hours and add my syrup to get the SG i want since i know that 2oz of sugar will change my SG by .005 and bottle . I never add sorbate unless I'm making something that i want fizzy since sorbate only stops reproduction but doesn't kill the yeast in there.
 

WVMJ

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The sulfites are not there to kill the yeasts at bottling time, most of the yeast should have already fallen out, a few remain and the sorbate keeps them from reproducing. The sulfite is there to preserve your wine, to protect it from oxidation by scavenging oxygen, to prevent acetabacter bacteria from metablozing your alcohol into vinegar and to help preserve the color. We have also used a 2:1 sugar dilution, I like to add acid blend to the dilution and everyclear to match the levels in the wine I am making, that way you dont dilute the acid level or alcohol while you are trying to balance the sweetness. But its easier to just use something like winecalc to give a range of how much sugar will raise the gravity and start by add that dry, stir, measure, taste. WVMJ
 

saramc

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If you add sorbate to a wine with added sugar or residual sugar plus active, live yeast and do not add campden/k-meta, odds are that wine will continue to ferment until those remaining yeast die off. Sulfites only kill bacteria, and inhibit yeast.
Personally, when backsweetening, my wines are already clear and sediment free, so I measure SG and prefer to add ultrafine sugar until I reach new target SG. Any wine that is being backsweetened is dosed with sorbate/k-meta about two weeks prior to backsweetening. (Though granulated sugar dissolves easily with the help of my drill and stir stick.) The b/s and stabilized wine then rests under airlock for 10-14 days to monitor for refermentation and if any sediment has dropped due to backsweetening, it usually does, it is racked one final time and bottled.
 
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Big_Cat

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Wow so I've just been lucky that i always backsweeten after its below. 1.000 Because without adding sorbate I've never had a bottle bomb or cork fly off...yikes...as of today I'm adding both
 

saramc

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1/2 tsp per gallon is industry standard along with KMS per pkg directions (mine says 1/4 tsp per 5 gal).

Bigcat...you are fortunate indeed. You will have to let us know if any go boom or you have bubbly!
 

choosybeggar

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If you add sorbate to a wine with added sugar or residual sugar plus active, live yeast and do not add campden/k-meta, odds are that wine will continue to ferment until those remaining yeast die off. Sulfites only kill bacteria, and inhibit yeast.
Personally, when backsweetening, my wines are already clear and sediment free, so I measure SG and prefer to add ultrafine sugar until I reach new target SG. Any wine that is being backsweetened is dosed with sorbate/k-meta about two weeks prior to backsweetening. (Though granulated sugar dissolves easily with the help of my drill and stir stick.) The b/s and stabilized wine then rests under airlock for 10-14 days to monitor for refermentation and if any sediment has dropped due to backsweetening, it usually does, it is racked one final time and bottled.
Why do you add the k-meta and sorbate 2 weeks prior to sweetening?
 

saramc

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I was taught that it allows time to incorporate, drops any more sediment, and the SO2 addition adds nucleation points for any remaining CO2. And I swear I pick up the SO2 aroma during tasting trials, so I prefer this way.
 

saramc

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Any thoughts on sorbate vs benzoate?
I have only used sorbate, benzoate is not commonly available for home use, have never seen it at LHBS and do not recall seeing it at the online shops I use.. Benzoate is more hard core from what I recall, but I think benzoate has a link to carcinogens.
 

choosybeggar

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The b/s and stabilized wine then rests under airlock for 10-14 days to monitor for refermentation and if any sediment has dropped due to backsweetening, it usually does, it is racked one final time and bottled.
Sarah, one more question. Do you hold the wine in the fridge after b/s? Would you ever expect to see signs of fermentation at refrigerator temps?
 

saramc

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Sarah, one more question. Do you hold the wine in the fridge after b/s? Would you ever expect to see signs of fermentation at refrigerator temps?
I do not cold shock things, but if you need to cold stabilize you can refrigerate for two weeks, though you may have tartaric acid crystals drop if present. Fermentation can occur even when cold, though the yeast tend to go dormant and as the wine warms the yeast wake up. The key when b/s is make sure your gravity is as low as it is going to go, then stabilize with KMS/sorbate so any remaining live yeast really have nothing.to do. Always use hydrometer to confirm no new fermentation going on, because you do not always see visible signs. Hope that helps.
 
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