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More Practical Wine Terms

Hydrometer: An inexpensive and widely available analytical device that measures the specific gravity (relative density) of a solution. Very useful to measure the amount of sugar (in Balling or degrees Brix) in a juice or wine. Because density depends on temperature, a thermometer reading of the solution being tested is critical for accurate results. Hydrometers are calibrated to be used at 60° F. Invert sugar: Common sugar (sucrose) that has been broken down into fructose and glucose. It does not contain dextrins. One pound of invert sugar is only two-thirds as sweet as cane sugar, so you have to use 50 percent more to achieve the same sweetness. Lactic acid: An acid present in wines that have undergone a malolactic fermentation, in which the malic acid (see below) has been transformed into lactic acid by malolactic bacteria. Lactic acid is less acidic than malic acid. Malic acid: A naturally occurring grape acid that decreases with ripening. It is one of the principal components of a wine’s total acidity. If a wine is too acidic (the grapes hadn’t ripened fully), it