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Techniques in Home Winemaking

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Wine is hot and heady

Hot and heady are terms used to describe a wine that is high in alcohol, particularly in a very tannic wine where the burning sensation is further amplified. High alcohol is simply the result of high Brix (SG) in juice that was successfully fermented extensively.

Possible Causes

Corrective Actions, if any

High sugar content in must was fermented extensively.

Blend wine with low-alcohol wine

Commercial wineries that produce huge quantities of wine and that can afford and justify the investment of very expensive equipment use reverse osmosis (RO) technology to remove alcohol from wine. In home winemaking, the only practical solution is to blend a high-alcohol wine with a low-alcohol wine. Alternatively, you can add water to the wine but this has the drawback of diluting everything else in the wine, namely color, aromas, flavors, acidity and mouthfeel. Maceration with natural yeast derivative nutrients, such as Lallemand’s BoosterRouge, as a corrective treatment is also very effective for helping to integrate high-burning alcohol characters.

Surprisingly, quite often, a hot or heady wine is the result of over-chaptalization, i.e., the wine was a tad too low in potential alcohol and then too much sugar was added. So go easy when chaptalizing. Double-check your sugar addition calculations, add sugar progressively, taking a hydrometer reading after each addition, and determine your new potential alcohol and make sure it matches your calculations.

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