Wine Wiki

Alcohol Content, Increasing in Wine Kit

If you are considering trying to change the alcohol content of your kit wine, please note that Winexpert does not recommend or promote changing the alcohol content of any of our kits. Keep in mind that a wine made in this fashion would not be warranted by the company.

The reason is that our kits are very carefully designed to give a balanced flavour, aroma, and alcohol content when they are made according to our instructions. They are ready to drink quite young (less than 6 months for most kits) and have a smooth finish. Using less water or adding extra sugar might sound like a good idea at first, but the resulting wine would never exceed the quality of a properly made kit. Indeed, it would produce such rough, coarse flavours that it would probably need a year of ageing before it could even be approached.

Increased alcohol content might give an individual glass a bigger punch, but it would inhibit one of the great joys of wine: being able to enjoy several glasses over dinner or throughout an evening, without being forced to go lie down after one glass. The final alcohol content of Winexpert wine kits varies between 10.5% and 14.5% alcohol by volume. Much depends on the individual kit and the fermenting conditions.

Here is a way to figure out the alcohol content of a wine when you know the starting and finishing Specific Gravity (SG): Take the starting SG and subtract the ending SG to get the difference, e.g. starting gravity 1.088 minus finishing gravity 0.998 would equal 0.090. Multiply this number by 131 to get percent of alcohol by volume, which in this case would be 11.79. This calculation assumes that the temperature of all liquids is 15C or 60F at the time of measurement.

If you are completely set on driving up the alcohol content in your wine, there are a few methods, all of which would be done at Day 1. You could add sugar or grape concentrate to bring up the SG to the desired level, or you could add less water to the batch, making the kit to a lesser volume. 

For each pound of sugar you add to a 23-litre/6-US gallon kit, you will raise the alcohol content by about one percent. Keep in mind that this will generate more esters, ketones and aldehydes, in addition to alcohol and CO2, so you'll extend the length of time you need to cellar the wine before it reaches drinkability. Don’t add much more than a pound of sugar, or at most two. You will unbalance the wine if you go beyond that volume.

You can increase the alcohol content of Island Mist wines by adding corn sugar on Day 1. Add approximately 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of sugar to the 23-litre/6-US gallon batch.  Otherwise, follow the directions as printed. Adding sugar will raise the starting SG to between 1.080-1.085. The wine will finish with an alcohol content of about 11%. The Mist will taste harsher than normal and may take some ageing before it is as drinkable as the lighter, regular version.

Written by Phyl on March 30, 2011 at 11:39:27 PST.