Ingredients in Wine Making

By: John Gygax

Sugar

Most winemakers use ordinary white granulated sugar, since this is still the least expensive, the most convenient and the best. Soft brown sugar may be used in the making of Madeira type wines to produce a caramel taste akin to the madeira flavour. Cube sugar, caster sugar and icing sugar are all more expensive but nevertheless suitable. Golden syrup or a light treacle may be used in red wines or strong dessert white wines, but the colour and flavour of this sugar affects the colour and flavour of light white wines. Fructose or glucose may also be used, preferably some of each, though they can be used singly if desired. Invert sugar is simply a mixture of fructose and glucose which ferments very rapidly. It can be made by boiling a solution of ordinary white granulated sugar with a teaspoonful of citric acid for 20 minutes. Although invert sugar is used extensively in the brewing industry its many advantages in winemaking are less apparent than one first may think. Commercial invert sugar contains 25% water, so 4 measures of this is equal to 3 measures of granulated sugar.

Honey may be substituted for sugar in the ratio of 4 parts honey to 3 parts sugar. It will affect the flavour slightly and it is recommended that not more than one quarter to one third of the sugar be so replaced, unless a honey flavour is required in the wine. Similarly, malt extract may be used and the same proportions apply. Black treacle and molasses should always be avoided since they impart a most unpleasant taste to a wine.

Cereal as a source of carbo hydrate has limited merits. Although the starch in the cereal can be converted to sugar by the enzyme diastase, the grain imparts a flavour which can hardly be described as vinous. They are most effective when used as an additive to provide some body to a wine, rather than as a main source of sugar.

Most winemakers add sugar to a must in its dry, granulated crystals form, and stir till it is dissolved. Others prefer to use a sugar syrup to effect a quicker dissolution of the sugar without so much stirring, with its consequent admission of air and, therefore, oxygen to the must. The usual formulae is 2 lb sugar dissolved in 1 pint of boiling water to produce 2 pints of syrup (1 kg dissolved in 62 els produces 1 litre). The solution is covered and left to cool before use. If a syrup is used, less water is required.

Lactose or milk sugar is sometimes used for sweetening a dry wine. It cannot be fermented by ordinary wine yeast. The quantity to use depends on the amount of sweetness desired of course; about 20 grams (f oz) per bottle is enough for the average palate. Saccharin - which is more than 500 times as sweet as sugar -may also be used to sweeten a fermented wine. It has no carbohydrate content and cannot be used for fermentation.

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