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Ways To Determine Alcohol Content In Wine?

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#1 MrK


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Posted 31 August 2005 - 04:41 AM

I'm aware of using SG readings to give an idea of what percentage alcohol will be in finished wine, but is there a more precise [and reasonable] way to actually measure it. Some of my secondaries seem to be "rocket fuelish"........ I wonder if I didn't take existing sugar of fruit into the computations correctly.


#2 martensite


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Posted 31 August 2005 - 05:23 AM

Mr K...Exactly what are your SG measurements?? If your talking 17 ~18 % alcohol or more when measured with a hydrometer, then Yes, they will be very HOT and have a strong alcohol taste. Depending on the type and ripeness of the fruit used, its possible to over shoot the desired SG when starting your primary fermentation. Always, add less sugar to start with as the ripe fruit can add appreciable amounts of natural sugars and raise the SG levels. Also, many young wines will most definitely have a strong alcohol taste. Time is what makes an undrinkable wine into a very good one. Most wines need 6 months or more of aging after secondary fermentation, either in bulk or bottle to become good. My dandelion wine was like you describe when it was young. Now at 6 months its becoming very good and drinkable. Give your wine time to mature. Best regards, Mark in Buffalo smile.gif

#3 WineyDog



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Posted 31 August 2005 - 08:24 AM

I too was looking for an easy way to get the ABV of a finished wine in this thread and within that thread is a post by karl describing the spirit indication method

I gave this procedure a try on a store bough 12% wine and an 18% port, it turned out to be fairly quick and easy and the readings were as expected.

My implementation of this procedure consisted of:
    Fill the hydrometer test tube to the brim (with hydrometer inserted).
    Measure the SG of the sample and record it.
    Remove the hydrometer being careful to catch every drop.
    Dump the sample in a sauce pan boil off about 1/2 of the volume.
    Place the sauce pan into a bigger pan of cold water to bring the sample down to its original temperature.
    Pour the sample back in the test jar and add water to fill it back to the brim
    Measure the SG again and subtract from it the starting SG, this is the Spirit Indication.
    Use the Spirit Indication to look up the ABV in this table.(boiling method)
This is really easier than it sounds; it took only 120ml of sample to fill my test jar (with the hydrometer inserted) and took about four minutes to boil off half the wine. Getting the same temperature after boiling is key; I didnít have a thermometer small enough to get the temp so I just let the boiled pan cool in a bigger pan of running cold water for about five minutes (I did repeat the SG measurement after the sample sat for a day and it was the same).

I mainly wanted to know the ABV of my very first strawberry wine just to have feedback as to if it was what I thought it should be and this procedure served that purpose. Good luck if you try this.
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