One of the many reasons that people buy wine making kits and wine making supplies in the first place is that making your own wine gives you so much control over the finished product. You can make any kind of wine you like and make it your way.
One of the many things you can control about the wine you make yourself is the alcohol content; and if you’re interested in making wine with a higher alcohol content than the usual 10% - 12%, then you’ll need to know a few basics about how wine is made. It’s always a good thing to expand your base of knowledge about wine making, so whether or not making a high alcohol wine is something which appeals to you personally, you may find the subject of interest for the insights it provides into the process of making wine.
How to Make High Alcohol Wine
Producing a wine with high alcohol content is inherently challenging; the yeasts which are used to make wine are bred to produce the wines we see today, namely those with an alcohol content of around 10%. There are a lot of variables involved in the process, so don’t set your hopes too high especially the first time you try to make one of these wines – in many cases, you may end up with wine which has an alcohol content of 13% - 14%, though up to 20% can be and has been done.
Generally speaking, the most reliable method of making a wine with high alcohol content is to add sugar to the must. You can’t add all of this sugar at the beginning of the process and expect your wine to turn out exactly as intended – in fact, adding too much sugar at the outset can be counterproductive and end up stopping the fermentation earlier than you’d hoped. The end result is an overly sweet wine which doesn’t have nearly as much alcohol as you want. While more sugar does mean more alcohol, adding it gradually is what makes the difference; you’ll need to use a hydrometer to monitor the sugar content of your must during fermentation in order to determine when to add more sugar to the mix.
You can also help things along by fermenting your wine at a slightly higher temperature than usual. Rather than the usual 70 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit, keep your fermentation between 74 and 78 degrees and you’ll usually end up with higher alcohol content in your wine.
Finally, one more thing which can help you to get a wine with a little more kick is to start your yeast ahead of time. Start a batch of yeast a day or two ahead of time to let your fermentation get off to a stronger start; this will help your yeast ferment more sugar into alcohol and if all goes well, give you a wine with more alcohol.
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