Early this year I decided to try my hand at making Port wine.
It won’t be a true port wine, which is produced by fermenting a wine (usually but not always red) to a certain point, then stopping the fermentation by adding spirits to raise the ABV to a point that kills the yeast, typically 19% to 21%. This leaves residual sugar, and the wine is aged in oak barrels for a period of time before bottling.
I’m coming at it from a home winemaker’s POV — I fermented red wines dry and barrel aged. To that dry wine I’m adding EverClear (the closest I can reasonably find to Eau de Vie, unaged grape brandy), and backsweetening. It’s not a true Port, but I don’t live in Portugal so it’s not going to be a “true” Port no matter what I do.
Per usual, I’m labeling with both my and Eric’s logo, as he’s been part of this from the beginning.
Following are the notes from my experiment:
|Fruit||3 bottles (2.25 liters) 2021 Rhone Blend
3 bottles (2.25 liters) 2021 Super Tuscan
425 ml “Frankenwine”, leftover from bottling 2021 Rhone Blend and Super Tuscan
|Spirits||500 ml EverClear 151 proof|
|Poured the 6 bottles of wine into a small food grade bucket. The batches the bottles were from had already had K-meta and glycerin added, so none is needed here.
Pearson’s Square indicated 500 ml EverClear 151 proof will raise the ABV from 14.4% to 20%, so added that amount.
Added 3/4 cup sugar in 3 increments, stirring well after each addition. My younger son & I disagreed on the wine needing more sugar (he thought it was fine, I thought it needed more) so we racked the wine into a 1 US gallon jug + 1.5 liter bottle.
That evening I was going to use a half bottle of “Frankenwine” left over the bottling the main batches (leftover wine was mixed). The 1.5 liter bottle of port was nearly 3/4 full, and I needed to deal with the headspace, so I added the Frankenwine (425 ml), filling it to within 1/4″ of where I’d normally fill a bottle.
|Using Pearson’s Square, I determined that the 425 ml would require adding another 45 ml EverClear. I decided to check that and entering 4.925 liters into my workbook still produced 0.5 liters. I tried various values such as 4 and 6 liters, and the workbook produced what looked like appropriate results, but 4.5 and 4.925 both produced 0.5 as an answer.
I realized the workbook rounds to 1 decimal place. The workbook is units agnostic, e.g., if I enter the amount of wine in liters, the workbook calculates the amount of spirits to add in liters. If I do ounces, the answer is in ounces.
When I enter the wine amount in liters, it rounds to 1 decimal place, so the answer for 4.5 and 4.925 liters are both 0.5 liters. When I enter the values in ml, I get the correct answer, which is 454 ml for 4.5 liters of wine, and 497 ml for 4.925 liters of wine.
It turns out that adding 500 ml to 4.5 liters increased the ABV to 21%, and that adding the additional wine dropped it to 20%. So I don’t need to do anything further, other than possibly adding more sugar.
|My elder son is visiting and we homogenized the two containers of Port and tasted. It’s good, as-is, but we agreed for it to be a port it needs a bit more sugar. We stirred in another 1/4 cup sugar, and that tasted right.
|Yield||14 split (375 ml) bottles|
|12/17/2022||We didn’t check the SG on bottling, as I’m not sure what the value of that is, since we added EverClear, which will reduce the SG, and sugar that will raise it. I’ll check when we open a bottle, but don’t have a reason other than “because”.|