Day 5: My Cider Is Dry. Can I Sweeten it?

Bottle Of Apple CiderI am into the 5th day of the 2nd fermentation of my apple cider. I took a sample of the cider yesterday and found it to be very dry and cloudy. I have two questions. 1) Can I add sugar at this point to sweeten or will this just increase the alcohol content? 2) Can I add pectin at this time or is that only mixed with the must? Or is there a better fining additive? Thank you.
Name: Chuck F.
State: NY
Hello Chuck,
You are correct in thinking that more sugar will only contribute to more alcohol. If you want to sweeten the wine you want to do it right before bottling, not day 5 of the fermentation.
Once the cider has come to a point that it is ready to bottle, add sugar to taste. The sugar should be in a simple syrup form made by heating up equal parts of sugar and water in a sauce pan. Add the sugar syrup to get the sweetness you like.
You will also need to add potassium sorbate at the same time to keep the fermentation from restarting. Potassium sorbate will keep a wine that is still and clear from starting a renewed fermentation. You may want to read more on sweetening your wine before actually doing it.
Most of the cloudy stuff you are seeing in the wine at this stage is yeast. A little packet of wine yeast will typically grow to 100 to 150 times what you put in. It is finer than flour, so it does take time for it to settle out.
It is completely normal for the cider to be cloudy at this stage. Once the fermentation stops, you will slowly see the cider begin to clear. It may take a week or two to completely clear, but it will clear. You can add bentonite to help speed up the clearing process, but do not add it before the fermentation has completely finished.
Now for your second question about adding pectic enzyme. If you have not added pectic enzyme to the cider, you should go ahead and do it now. We recommend adding double the recommended dosage. This is because you are adding it after the fermentation has started. You need more enzymatic power to get it up to speed.
Pectic enzyme does two things: 1) it helps to break down the pulp so that you can get more juice and flavor from it; 2) it breaks down pectin that can cause cloudy haze in the cider. You can read more about using pectic enzyme, as well.
I hope this helps you out. Just be a little patient. Give the wine some time and things should come together like they should.
Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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.