Ask Wine Wizard

How can I increase the sugar content of my juice without using refined sugar?

TroubleShooting

Azubuike Ogala — Oxford, New Jersey asks,
Q

How can I increase the sugar content and body of my juice without using refined sugar? I am looking for cheaper alternatives. Please point me to specific recipes.

A
Wine Wizard replies: If you’ve seen a lot of home winemaking recipes that recommend pounds upon pounds of refined sugar, it’s because refined sugar is the cheapest agent available to home winemakers who want to raise specific gravity. If you happen to be a beekeeper or know one with whom you could trade a few bottles of wine for a few pounds of honey, for instance, I’d say your chances of getting cheap honey (which is a great sugar source for wines and meads) are pretty good. Other sources of fermentable sugars that won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg are malt, grape concentrates, fruit juice concentrates and dried fruits. However, on a pound-for-pound average, all of these sugar sources will most likely cost you more than that five-pound bag of sugar that you can pick up at your local supermarket.If you happen to have a good, cheap source of any of the above, go ahead and use them to replace some or all of the refined sugar in your recipes. Just be aware that you’ll be imparting
Response by Alison Crowe.