Ask Wine Wizard

Is there any way to save a flat and watery wine I made?


Pat Evans — Pitt Meadows, British Columbia asks,

My pear wine is watery and flat, I have already bottled it. Is there any way to save it? It was my first attempt at winemaking and I don’t know what went wrong. The only thing I can tell you is that I made it from fresh fruit and followed all directions in my recipe.


Though making fruit-based wine is a little different from making grape-based wine, you always want to make sure you’ve got enough sugar, acid, tannin and aromatic and flavor compounds to result in a stable (over 10% alcohol), zippy (over 6.0 g/L total acidity) and flavorful beverage.

The “numbers” are relatively easy to shoot for and can be adjusted up or down depending on how your initial fruit comes in. Always use a juice with an initial sugar content in the realm of 21–24 ºBrix to be sure of producing a final alcohol above 10% by volume. Initial total acidity profiles to result in a finished wine of 6.0 g/L should start around 6.5-7.0 g/L as some of the acid will drop out of solution during the fermentation process. Flavor and aroma are a bit more subjective, of course, and are largely personal decisions. Before buying your fresh fruit, be sure to eat at least a few good mouthfuls. Is it delicious? Does it make you salivate and want more? I find that organic, wild-crafted or home-grown produce is far superior to mass-produced supermarket fare and will restate for the record that a finished wine is only as good as the starting material.

If you’re stuck with not-so-great starting material you can attempt to tart it up a bit by adding a little grape juice concentrate before the primary fermentation. In your case, I would advise using white grape juice concentrate. An added benefit is that you’ll also be adding extra nitrogen, amino acids and other goodies that yeast need to conduct a healthy fermentation.

Response by Alison Crowe.