Making a sweet or dry wine or cider

January 27, 2010

I have eluded to the fact that it is much easier to make a dry wine or cider than it is to make a sweet one. I think it is time to go a little deeper into the topic.

The yeast in cider and wine eat sugar, turning it into alcohol. Thing is, they will do that until one of two things happens. The first one is that the yeast run out of sugar. At this point, it is a dry beverage with no sweetness, which some may dislike. This process is the easiest to accomplish because it allows the yeast to do what it wants to do. To obtain a sweet wine or cider, one must interfere with the batch, either killing the yeast prematurely before all the sugar is gone, or making sure the yeast is truly dead before adding more sugar back. I will explore those options in the posts to come.

How do you know if the wine or cider is sweet or dry? The answer is as simple as taking a specific gravity reading taken with a hydrometer. That reading can be classified into the corresponding sweetness:

  • 1.025     Very Sweet
  • 1.020     Sweet
  • 1.015     Medium Sweet
  • 1.010     Medium Dry
  • 1.005     Dry

It is not really recommended bottling much higher than 1.025, as most people would not find it very drinkable. Also, if the yeast starts fermenting again, the carbon dioxide released could create too much pressure on the bottle, causing it to pop the cork, or worse yet, explode. Ben Watson in his Cider: Hard and Sweet cautions against bottling cider higher than 1.005 if it has not been stabilized, that is, if chemicals or pasteurization has not happened to ensure the yeast will not start fermenting again.

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2 Responses to “Making a sweet or dry wine or cider”


  1. […] Reading: Making a Sweet or Dry Wine or Cider Posted by candlewineproject Filed in cider, fruit wine recipe, sweetness, tasting Leave a […]


  2. […] has been a year now. I had issues with one gallon getting stuck at 1.010 SG, so I haven’t decided on how I’m going to deal with that and bottling since doing something […]


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