Home Winemaking For Dummies
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As a home winemaker, you need to know certain properties of your grapes and wine, whether you ever took a chemistry class or not. The following list offers the key chemical components and how to measure them:

  • Acidity: The key to how refreshing your wine is in the glass, and the way to control problem pH is in acidity. Test kits let you measure total juice and wine acidity and some of its major components.

  • pH: The balance of electrical charges in a solution, pH influences nearly every biochemical reaction in wine. Hand-held pH meters are extremely useful and not that expensive.

  • Sugar: You need to know how much of it is in your grapes, and whether any of it is still left after your wine has fermented. Refractometers use light to calculate sugar levels in the vineyard; glass and plastic hydrometers aid testing during fermentation; and kits with special tablets check to see if a wine is fully dry.

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Tim Patterson writes about wine and makes some of his own in Berkeley, California. He contributes the monthly "Inquiring Winemaker" column for the industry trade magazine Wines & Vines, digging into winemaking theories and techniques, and he covered home winemaking for several years in the pages of WineMaker. He has won dozens of Gold medals, Double Golds, and Best of Shows from amateur winemaking competitions in California.

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