Ask Wine Wizard

Do you have any suggestions for a wine that came out too “hot” with a higher than expected alcohol content?


Michael D’Onofrio — Olney, Maryland asks,

Last fall I made wine from Petite Sirah grapes that were extremely sweet. I used Premier Cuvée yeast, which happened to be high in alcohol tolerance. This yielded a finished wine at approximately 17 percent alcohol with very little aroma. I’m trying to decide what to do with this wine. It’s too hot and I’m not sure if I should try to sweeten it into a port-style wine or blend it down with something less alcoholic. Any suggestions?



Blending is fine; but if you don’t have enough suitable wine to lower the alcohol to a point you like, make it into a dessert wine. When faced with a 17 percenty monstronsity, this Wine Wiz would definitely sweeten, fortify, soak a cheesecloth “teabag” of herbs and spices in the batch and maybe acidify with tartaric to taste. With winter here my thoughts turn to spiciness…so why not sweeten the wine with grape juice concentrate (something flavorful, like a good Zinfandel) and punch that up with some orange peel, dried cranberries and a little cinnamon? I’m already drooling. Let the wine sit in a small oak cask until it falls bright and then bottle it up!

Response by Alison Crowe.