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Airgead

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Hi Folks

I have had a couple of people ask me for this so here it is...

I make a number of fortified wines/meads. Mostly for the missus. Actually mostly for its effects on the missus :ph34r: . The basic idea is to use fortification to allow me to make a sweet product without any risk of re-fermentation.

The process is really simple. You take your base drink which may be wine, mead, cider or even beer. You blend it with a spirit that complements the taste to raise the %alcohol high enough to prevent re-fermentation and add a suitable sweetener until its as sweet as you want it.

The big question is "how much spirit do I need". The aim is to get your alc% above the alc tolerance of the yeast. This really depends on the yeast you used but in practice 16% is usually enough for a beer yeast. Wine yeasts you might want to go to 18 or 20% depending on the strain. To calculate how much spirit you need there is a technique called the Pearson Square which is used to calculate the final strength of a blend of two wines. There's an online version here - http://www.vinovation.com/Pearson.html or here - http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/blending.asp. The actual tool looks like this -


The center of the square, shown by the letter "C", represents the "target" value we want to blend for.
The upper left corner, shown by the letter "A", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #1
The lower left corner, shown by the letter "D", represents the known alcohol percentage of wine #2

To use the Pearson Square, we merely substitute numbers for the letters in the diagram, and then do some simple subtraction. We find the difference between the values in the corner and the center "target" value, and place the answer in the opposite corners. This value is always the absolute value (no negative numbers allowed!)

As an example, if I have a 6% cider and I want to fortify that up to 18% using brandy which is 40%,

The square looks like

6 B
18
40 E

E (volume of wine 2) = 18-6=12
B (Volume of wine 1) = 40-18=22

So we need 22 parts of cider to 12 parts of Brandy (or divide by the common divisor to get 11 parts to 6). Which is damn close to 1 part to 2 (1/3 to 2/3) which is what I tend to use in practice.

Once you have the blended wine, all that remains is to add your sweetener. I find its best to mix it up then let it age for a month or two to let the flavors come together properly.

Some recipe ideas to try -

Cider fortified with brandy and sweetened with honey.
Mead fortified with brandy and sweetened with fruit juice (apple or pomegranate work well).
Mead fortified with Grand Marnier. No sweetener required.
Vanilla mead fortified with rum and sweetened with brown sugar.
Peach or apricot mead with brandy and sweetened with honey or sugar
Anything with vodka as vodka is so neutral
I'm working on a spiced mead fortified with gin but haven't finalised that one yet.

Blend and enjoy...

Cheers
Dave
 

Damien13

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mmmmm yummy. Thanks for this post mate.
Methinks I need to pop down a batch of mead and cider!
Cheers,
 

Phoney

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I think I recall reading somewhere on here that fortification of wine (even at home) is illegal is Australia. Not that I care, but AHB mods might.
 

Airgead

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You can fortify... you can't distill or otherwise concentrate the alcohol in anything.

You also can't fortify with 100% alcohol which is the way the pros do it but mixing in some shop bought brandy is fine. After all... its just like making a cocktail...Actually its exactly like making a cocktail except that you are making up a quantity in advance instead of a glass at a time.

Cheers
Dave
 

Phoney

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Yeah you're probably right. I thought 'that cant be right' at the time when I originally read it. I cant find for the old thread in this new ahb where it was discussed. :rolleyes:
 

sp0rk

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you can distill, you just require the needed licences and have to pay the excises
 

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