Are you a wine lover who prefers a sweeter taste?
Back sweetening your wine with simple syrup might be the solution you’ve been looking for.
Adding sugar to wine after fermentation is known as back sweetening, and it’s a common practice in the wine industry.
But how do you do it without risking the pressure of CO2 popping the corks or cracking the bottles?
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of back sweetening your wine with simple syrup, step by step.
So, grab a glass of your favorite wine and let’s get started!
How To Back Sweeten Wine With Simple Syrup?
Before we dive into the process, it’s important to note that back sweetening should only be done after fermentation is complete. If any yeast remains in the wine, fermentation will continue inside the bottle and cause pressure buildup, which can lead to corks popping or bottles cracking.
Now, let’s get started with the steps:
1. Make a simple syrup by boiling one cup of water and two cups of sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Let the syrup cool to 70°F.
3. Take one cup of wine and add a small amount of the cooled syrup to it, measuring the quantity of syrup added to the wine.
4. Taste the wine to see if the desired level of sweetness has been reached.
5. Based on the ratio measured earlier, add the right quantity of syrup into your wine.
6. Use a hydrometer to read the specific gravity of your wine.
7. Add 1/4 tablespoon of potassium sorbate and 1/8 tablespoon of potassium metabisulphite to each gallon of wine to prevent further fermentation.
8. Pour the wine into a demijohn, seal it with an airlock, and let it sit for at least one week.
9. Read the specific gravity again. If it has dropped, then fermentation is still occurring, and you should let it stop before proceeding to bottle the wine.
It’s important to note that simple syrup is a concentrated form of sugar and water that can make your wine too sweet if you add too much. Therefore, it’s best to add small amounts at a time and taste as you go until you reach your desired level of sweetness.
Understanding Back Sweetening And Simple Syrup
Back sweetening is a process of adding sweetness to wine after the fermentation process is complete. This is done to balance the acidity of the wine and make it more palatable. One of the most common methods of back sweetening is using simple syrup, which is a concentrated form of sugar and water.
To make simple syrup, you need to boil equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved. The syrup should then be cooled to room temperature before adding it to the wine. It’s important to note that adding too much simple syrup can make the wine too sweet, so it’s best to add small amounts at a time and taste as you go.
When back sweetening with simple syrup, it’s important to take specific gravity readings using a hydrometer. This will help you determine if fermentation is still occurring in the wine. If the specific gravity drops, then fermentation is still happening, and you should wait until it stops before proceeding to bottle the wine.
To prevent further fermentation after back sweetening, you can add 1/4 tablespoon of potassium sorbate and 1/8 tablespoon of potassium metabisulphite per gallon of wine. This will prevent any remaining yeast from fermenting the added sugar.
Choosing The Right Wine For Back Sweetening
When it comes to back sweetening wine, it’s important to choose the right type of wine. Generally, dry wines are the best candidates for back sweetening because they have a low residual sugar content. Dry wines have fermented to completion and typically have less than 0.4% residual sugar or 4 g/L. Examples of dry wines include many Old World reds or Sauvignon Blanc.
On the other hand, semi-sweet wines have a residual sugar content ranging from 0.4-2% or 4-20 g/L. These wines are commonly found in semi-sweet or off-dry Viognier or Riesling. If you’re looking for a sweet wine, then you should consider wines with a residual sugar content above 2% or 20 g/L. Examples of sweet wines include Moscato or Port wines.
When choosing a wine for back sweetening, consider the flavor profile of the wine and whether it will complement the added sweetness. For example, a dry red wine may not be the best choice for back sweetening as it may clash with the added sweetness. Instead, consider a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a semi-sweet Riesling.
Ultimately, the choice of wine for back sweetening depends on personal preference and taste. It’s important to experiment with different types of wines and find the one that works best for you. Remember to always measure the residual sugar content of your wine before adding any additional sweetness and to use a hydrometer to ensure accuracy.
Making Simple Syrup At Home
Making simple syrup at home is a quick and easy process that requires only two ingredients: sugar and water. The first step is to combine equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan. For example, to make 3/4 cup of syrup, use 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water.
Heat the mixture over medium heat while whisking continuously until the sugar dissolves completely. It’s important not to let the mixture simmer or boil, as this can cause the syrup to thicken too much. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, pour the syrup into a glass jar and seal it tightly with a lid. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to one month.
For those who prefer a thinner consistency of simple syrup, “bar simple syrup” is an alternative method that requires no cooking. Simply combine equal parts of sugar and water in a bottle and shake it until the sugar dissolves completely. This method produces a thinner syrup than one that has been reduced by heat.
Simple syrup can also be infused with flavors such as pomegranate, lemon and lime, lavender, coffee, or vanilla. To make flavored simple syrup, add your desired flavoring agent (such as fruit juice, herbs, or spices) to the saucepan along with the sugar and water before heating. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve before storing it in a glass jar.
Adding Simple Syrup To Wine: Step-by-Step Guide
Adding simple syrup to wine is a great way to back sweeten your wine and enhance its flavor. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Step 1: Make a simple syrup
To make a simple syrup, boil one cup of water and two cups of sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, let the syrup cool down to 70°F.
Step 2: Add a small amount of syrup to the wine
Take one cup of wine and add a small amount of the cooled syrup to it. Be sure to measure the quantity of syrup added to the wine.
Step 3: Taste the wine
Taste the wine to see if the desired level of sweetness has been reached. If not, continue adding small amounts of the cooled syrup until you reach your desired level of sweetness.
Step 4: Add syrup based on measured ratio
Based on the ratio measured earlier, add the right quantity of syrup into your wine. It’s important to note that adding too much syrup can make your wine too sweet, so be sure to add small amounts at a time.
Step 5: Use a hydrometer to read specific gravity
Use a hydrometer to read the specific gravity of your wine. This will help you determine if fermentation is still occurring.
Step 6: Add potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulphite
Add 1/4 tablespoon of potassium sorbate and 1/8 tablespoon of potassium metabisulphite to each gallon of wine to prevent further fermentation.
Step 7: Let it sit for at least one week
Pour the wine into a demijohn, seal it with an airlock, and let it sit for at least one week. This will allow any remaining fermentation to stop.
Step 8: Read specific gravity again
Read the specific gravity again. If it has dropped, then fermentation is still occurring, and you should let it stop before proceeding to bottle the wine.
Testing And Adjusting The Sweetness Level
Testing and adjusting the sweetness level of your wine is a crucial step in the back sweetening process. There are two approaches you can take: the guesstimate approach and the precision approach.
The guesstimate approach involves adding sugar to your wine based on rough guidelines. Dry wine has less than 0.4% residual sugar, semi-sweet wine typically has 0.4-2% sugar, and sweet wine has above 2% sugar. To back sweeten from 2 g/L to 5 g/L, add 3 g of sugar for every liter of wine in your fermenter. However, be careful not to oversweeten your wine by adding too much sugar at once.
The precision approach involves performing bench trials to dial in exactly how much sugar to add based on taste. To perform bench trials, you’ll need a scale, a 1-mL graduated pipette, a 50-mL graduated cylinder, and a wine thief. Pull your wine out of the fermenter in the thief and measure three aliquots of 50 mL of wine. Make a sugar solution by mixing 25 g of sugar into 25 mL of water, then top up with water to 50 mL of sugar solution. Heat this up to get it to dissolve. This is now a 0.5 g/mL (500 g/L) sugar solution. So each mL you add will add 1% sugar (10 g/L) to your 50-mL samples. You can start with some extremes if you are trying to decide if you want to go full sweet wine vs. semi-sweet route, or you can dial it in a smaller range if you’re trying to hone in how much sugar to make that semi-sweet Riesling.
No matter which approach you take, it’s important to add sugar in increments and taste as you go along to avoid oversweetening your wine. Additionally, be sure to measure the specific gravity of your wine before and after adding sugar to ensure that fermentation has stopped before bottling. Finally, don’t forget to add potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulphite to prevent further fermentation and stabilize your wine before bottling.
Storing Back Sweetened Wine: Best Practices And Tips
Once the back sweetening process is complete, it’s important to store your wine properly to ensure it maintains its flavor and quality. Here are some best practices and tips for storing back sweetened wine:
1. Store in a cool, dark place: Wine should be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent oxidation and spoilage. A temperature range of 45-65°F is ideal for storing wine.
2. Keep bottles upright: Unlike other beverages, wine should be stored upright to prevent the cork from drying out and allowing air into the bottle.
3. Avoid temperature fluctuations: Rapid temperature changes can cause the wine to expand and contract, which can damage the cork and allow air into the bottle. Keep the temperature consistent to avoid this.
4. Use proper closures: Corks or screw caps are the most common closures for wine bottles. Make sure they are tightly sealed to prevent air from entering the bottle.
5. Label your bottles: It’s important to label your bottles with the type of wine, vintage, and date of bottling. This will help you keep track of your wine collection and ensure you drink it at its best.
6. Taste regularly: It’s a good idea to taste your back sweetened wine every few months to ensure it hasn’t spoiled or turned bad. This will also give you an idea of how it’s aging and when it’s at its peak for drinking.
By following these best practices and tips, you can ensure your back sweetened wine stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.