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Wine is too sweet


The most common cause of a wine being undesirably too sweet is high residual sugar (RS) as a result of an incomplete alcoholic fermentation, either because the fermentation became stuck or the must had an unusually high Brix (SG) level and it could not ferment completely.


Possible Causes

Corrective Actions, if any

a) Incomplete alcoholic fermentation

b) Wine is not balanced

a) Let alcoholic fermentation complete

b) Increase TA to achieve balance, or blend with another wine



If the wine’s unusually high RS is acceptable and is well balanced with the acidity, simply stabilize it and add potassium sorbate to turn it into a good dessert wine. If there is some residual sugar but you wish to reduce the perception of sweetness, perform some bench trials by adding varying amounts of tartaric acid until the right balance is achieved. The amount needed to balance the wine depends on your taste, RS and TA. Be sure to cold stabilize the wine and re-adjust TA if needed. Note that increasing TA reduces the “perception” of sweetness; it does not change the actual sugar concentration.

If on the other hand you want a totally dry wine, you will need to restart fermentation by adding fresh yeast and nutrients.

If a wine is too dry, i.e., RS is too low, you can always add table sugar or a sweetener-conditioner until you achieve the desired balance with acidity.

An alternative to adjusting sweetness and acidity levels by adding sugar and tartaric acid is by blending. If available, try blending sweet wine with a dry, fresh wine, in varying proportions until the desired balance is achieved.

In all cases where there is residual sugar in wine, you need to stabilize it with potassium sorbate or by stabilizating filtration.

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