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Sugar is an essential part of any wine must. The sugar is made up of two parts: (1) natural sugar extracted from the ingredients used; (2) added sugar to produce the strength of alcohol required in any particular wine.
For those who do not use a hydrometer, a general rule for the addition of sugar is:
  • 2½lb/1.25kg for a dry wine,
  • 3lb/1.5kg for a medium wine,
  • 3½lb/1.75kg for a sweet wine.
It is better not to add more than 2½lb/1.25kg sugar at the outset to any wine, and anything above this figure can be added during the fermentation in liquid form.
For those who wish to use a hydrometer (it will give you a stricter control over the alcoholic content), the following is a better guide: not above a reading of about 1084s.g for a table wine, not above 1100s.g for a heavier wine, adding sugar when the reading drops to zero.
Never worry if wine finishes its ferment with all the sugar used up. A dry wine will mature better, and it can always be sweetened to taste, whereas there is little one can do with an oversweet wine except blend it.

In any recipe, sugar usually refers to cane or beet sugar. Some old recipes advocate the use of candy sugar, but this has little relevance now that sugar is so much purer. Demerara sugar is also mentioned from time to time, but be very careful in using it, for it imparts a certain amount of flavour, and is really only of use in a heavier wine such as sweet sherry, and even then only using part Demerara and part white sugar.

When sugar is suggested in liquid form, it is made up from 2lb/1 kg granulated sugar, ½ pint/250ml water and ½ teaspoon citric acid. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 20–25 minutes until the mixture turns a light golden colour. Add a further ½ pint/250ml cold water, stir thoroughly and leave to cool.

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