The one piece of winemaking equipment most often missing in the beginning winemaker’s arsenal is the wine hydrometer. Yet, it is probably the most valuable piece of equipment they could have. A wine hydrometer can tell you:
- How much sugar you need to add to your wine, if any
- How much alcohol your wine will have when it’s done
- How far along your wine’s fermentation has gotten
- If your wine’s fermentation is progressing, or if it’s stuck
- If your fermentation has finished or only looks like it has
- And above all, a wine hydrometer can give you piece of mind
If you’re not sure what your wine’s doing, take a reading with a wine hydrometer, and you’ll know. To sum it up, the hydrometer is just as important to the winemaker as the compass is to the sea captain. Without it you’re just guessing as to where your fermentation’s at, and more importantly, you’re guessing as to where it’s going.
After helping countless home winemakers, we’ve found that the #1 reason that a beginning winemaker does not use a wine hydrometer is because it either looks too complicated, or it’s too intimidating.
Just like when some people’s eye glaze-over at the mere mentioning
of math, some beginning winemakers shudder at the
thought of using a wine hydrometer.
This is really a shame, and I’ll tell you why. A wine hydrometer is no more complicated to use than an everyday thermometer, and it’s even quicker. With a wine hydrometer, you can take a reading instantly by seeing how high or low it floats in your wine. That’s it! No waiting around for it to react or to come up with a reading. Wherever the surface of the wine crosses the scale on the gravity hydrometer is how you determine your reading. Here more on taking wine hydrometer readings.
I think if more beginning winemakers understood that that’s all there is to using a wine hydrometer, more of them would use one. With so much information to gain about a wine by its use, it almost seems silly not to use it.
If you would like to read a little more about the wine hydrometer there’s a short, straight-forward article on our website titled, “Getting To Know Your Hydrometer.” It covers the use of the wine hydrometer in a little more detail.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.