How to Monitor the Brix of Fermenting Wine Must

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Brix is a measurement of the amount of sugar in a liquid. The sugar converts to alcohol during fermentation. As Brix numbers decrease, the amount of alcohol in the liquid increases. Measure Brix with a device called a hydrometer.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydrometer And Testing Jar
  • Fermenting Wines
  • Granulated Sugars
  • Thermometers
  • Record Logs And Pencil

Measuring Brix

  • Be sure the hydrometer is clean and free of oils from your fingers.

  • Fill 3/4 of a graduated cylinder or testing jar with juice. Avoid including seeds, stems, skins and bits of fruit in the sample.

  • Check the temperature of juice with a thermometer and note it.

  • With the bulb end first, place the hydrometer into the juice and give it a gentle spin with your fingers.

  • After about 5 to 10 seconds, at eye level, inspect the location of the bottom portion of the meniscus against the hydrometer. (The meniscus is very top of a column of liquid; when seen in a clear container, it almost looks like a thin lid.)

  • Record the number on the hydrometer that coincides with the lowest portion of the meniscus.

Adjusting Sugar Level in Liquid

  • To increase Brix by 2 degrees, add 3 1/2 ounces of standard granulated sugar (sucrose) to 1 gallon of juice.

  • Add water to sugar to create sugar syrup.

  • Add sugar syrup to must (juice with seeds and skins) in small amounts. Stir thoroughly.

  • Check the Brix and add more sugar to raise the level.

  • To decrease the Brix, add water, in small amounts, to dilute the must, or add low-sugar grapes. If you add water, check the acid level and make the necessary adjustments.

Tips & Warnings

  • If bubbles accumulate on the hydrometer, gently spin the hydrometer. When the hydrometer floats without bouncing, record the number immediately.
  • Determine the amount of alcohol the juice will yield by multiplying the initial measurement of Brix - taken before fermentation - by .6. Approximately 60 percent of the sugar will convert to alcohol during fermentation.

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