Many premium wine kits now include skins packages. The addition of grape skins improves and enhances the body, mouth-feel, tannin, color and most importantly – FLAVOUR. There are also heart smart properties associated with contact with the skins.
When making one of these kits, initial specific gravity readings may not be as expected. Each of these wine kits come with the appropriate type of grape skins package for style. The sugar content naturally occurring in the skins package will vary with style. This gives a clue as to why your initial specific gravity readings can vary so much at startup.
When preparing your varietal, and taking your initial S.G. – you may have achieved gravity, be somewhat lower, or be as much as 0.020 lower than expected. It can take up to 24 hours for the natural sugars in the grape skin package to impact your gravity readings.
Here is an example for a starting gravity range of 1.080 – 1.100. Recently I made a premium skins kit, and was disappointed with my initial gravity reading. Upon testing after adding the skins package, having appropriately stirred vigorously for at least 5 minutes, initial gravity was 1.080. I have made many skins kits, but had not experienced such a low reading with any previous kit styles. Subsequent testing (prior to active or vigorous fermentation) at 12 hours was 1.090, and at 24 hours was 1.100.
The end result for gravity range and expected alcohol content was without a doubt achieved, and the final product was of course, amazing! So, what’s the takeaway?
This was a high sugar skins package with an appropriately balanced wine kit. The lower varietal initial gravity left room to accommodate the slow rise in gravity and not blow the alcohol content out of proportion or stall the yeast. If your gravity is lower than expected at startup – and you have stirred appropriately and not added more water than desired, your kit is likely still on track for expected range.
When in question, please ask the staff! That is what we are here for.