I Put Too Much Sugar In My Wine!

Sugar In Wine MustTo keep a long story short, while mixing ingredients for the first fermentation, instead of 2 pounds of sugar called for in the wine recipe, 4 pounds made it into the bucket. I let it go for the first fermentation. The hydrometer reading is 1.106. Could I add water to lower sugar concentration for the fermentation?
Thank you.

Name: Jan R
State: Ohio
Hello Jan,

Adding an additional 2 pounds of sugar to the wine must is not as serious as you might think. Assuming this is a 5 gallon batch, the extra sugar will raise the final alcohol level by about 2%, so while you may have put too much sugar in the wine, it is far from being a disaster.

The general rule-of-thumb is for every pound of sugar you add to a 5 gallon
batch of wine, you increase the potential alcohol by 1%.

Based on your beginning Specific Gravity reading of 1.106 you took with your hydrometer, you have a beginning potential alcohol right at 14%. That means you have enough sugar in the wine must for the yeast to ferment 14% worth of alcohol content. If you can live with this, then doing nothing is your best course of action. Just finish the fermentation as you normally would.

If you would like, you can dilute the wine with water, but this will bring up another problem and that is the wine’s acidity or its tartness. Diluting the flavor profile of a wine with water is one thing. You can get away with reducing the intensity of the flavor without having too much noticeable overall affect on the wine. But you are diluting the acidity at the same time. Acidity is something that is very noticeable when it’s diluted. Because of this, an adjustment would need to compensate for the lowering of the acid level. This can be done by adding Acid Blend to the wine must.Shop Hydrometers

Now the question is: how much water and Acid Blend should you add? Again, I am going to assume this is a 5 gallon batch of wine.

You can use something called a Pearson’s square to calculate how much water to add to bring the potential alcohol down to its intended level, but I’ll do that for you, now. You need to add .83 gallons of water to the entire batch to bring the potential alcohol down from 14%  to 12%. This works out to 3 quarts and 8.5 fluid ounces of water.

Now, you need to figure out how much Acid Blend needs to be added to compensate for the addition of .83 gallons of water. This leads me to my second rule-of-thumb:

For every teaspoon of Acid Blend you add to a gallon of liquid,
you will raise the total acidity by .15%.

With a target range of around .65% to .75% TA, this means you would want to add between 4.33 and 5 teaspoons of Acid Blend per gallon of water. You would be adding .83 gallons — not a whole gallon — so this would adjust the range of Acid Blend needed for the batch to somewhere between 3.6 and 4.1 teaspoons. You could also use an our Acid Test Kit to take an acid reading after the water has been added and adjust according.

Shop Acid Test KitYou can add both the water and Acid Blend anytime you like during the winemaking process. The effects of both are immediate on the wine. The only thing you need to know is that if you add the water after the fermentation has completed, it needs to be distilled water. Using tap or bottled drinking water at this time would be introducing free oxygen into the wine and promote oxidation. Distilled water has no free oxygen.

As I’m sure you can start to see, there is a lot to be said for just leaving the wine alone and let is go as is, but if you feel that 14% alcohol is something you can’t live with, there are options. As I mentioned before, while you did put too much sugar in the wine must, the total effect on the resulting will not be disastrous or out ruinous. Either way I’m sure you wine will come out just fine.

Accidentally putting too much sugar in a wine must is something that happens from time to time. I know I’ve added to much sugar to my wine before, and I know lots of others have. Just realize that regardless of how bad the situation, there is usually a solution to remedy the problem.

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.

16 thoughts on “I Put Too Much Sugar In My Wine!

  1. This is the most direct, concise and helpful advice I have ever read in answer to a wine-making problem. Specific instructions,good background information, and an upbeat attitude. Keep up the good work!

  2. how much sugar should i add to make 1 gallion of wine, an how long should i let it sit an fermentation?

  3. ok I added too much sugar to start with i didn’t get any bubbling when i added the yeast. i am making a 2 gal batch and i put in about 7lbs of sugar. no bubbling at all, what can i do , dilute, split the recipe and add more water, can i add more yeast and will it start to work, toss it and start over. I am still learning the hydrometer, my sugar water mix was so thick the hydro, didn’t sink at all….any help is appreciated, still new to this, just really started this year. thank you

    • Anthony, diluting with water is the normal solution to having too much sugar for fermentation. Without knowing what the current hydrometer reading is will make it difficult to determine how much additional water to add using the Pearson Square mentioned in this article. Also, if there is so much sugar that you have to add a lot of water it is going to dilute the flavor of the wine. I would start by adding enough water to that you can get an accurate reading. After you do that, you can make a yeast starter to see if that will get the fermentation started.

      Making A Yeast Starter

  4. Rob, how much sugar to add varies from one type of wine to next. I would suggest going to our wine recipe page and selecting a recipe to follow. These are 5 gallon recipes. All you need to do is divide them by 5 to get your 1 gallon recipe. In either case, you want to use a whole packet of wine yeast for 1 or 5 gallons.

  5. Hi, I have also added too much sugar to my blackberry wine. It is my first time, so I didn’t really realize it until I recently racked it into a 3-gallon carboy and a 1-gallon demi. It has a kind of medicinal taste, and quite sweet. I used EC-1118, and my sg right now is 1.040. It doesn’t seem to be fermenting at this point. Wine is about 2 mths old. Thanks for any advice!

    • Terrie, first let me say that it is normal for the wine to not taste very good at this stage. You can try making a yeast starter as explained in the article posted below to get the fermentation to complete. If that does not work, as explained in this article you may need to dilute the wine with water.

      Too Much Sugar In the Primary Fermentation

  6. To much sugar in the first fermentation.
    I did the same with my Rhubarb and gooseberry wine ( 3 parts rhubarb to 1 part gooseberry)
    It should have bern 1kg=2lb but I miss read and put 2kg of sugar per 1 gallon thus making my starter fermentation double the amount of sugar. I was told to dilute my mixture by half fill up with water and add 2 ltr s of concentrated fruit juice. I’ve done this now I’m waiting for the results

  7. Hi there,

    This is my second time working with wine yeast. I am brewing mead. I’m not sure if you’ve done this before, but i’d assume the same knowledge of yeast carries over.

    There could be two possible problems:

    The yeast could have been improperly activated. I forgot that I needed to allow the dry yeast to come to room temperature before activating it & it didn’t seem like it was bubbling or activating before i put it in but from other sources I was told it wouldn’t necessarily show bubbling that early.

    After reading some of the other posts on your site, I believe that I might’ve added too much honey to the must. I added 3lbs (appx 4 cups) of honey to both 1gal carboy. I believe the last time I brewed mead, we only used 2 lbs and it was fine. My reading on the hydrometer was 30 & 33 brix (apx 19% & 20%alc prediction). I added yeast nutrient to the must before adding the

    Any thoughts/suggestions? I have two more gallons that I plan on making on thursday and I don’t want to mess these ones up too.

    • Kevin, First let me say that the only way to know if working is by taking hydrometer reading. When adding the yeast we actually do not recommend re-hydrating it with warm water and recommend simply sprinkling it on top. It may take a little longer to start but this way you do not run the risk of damaging any of the yeast cells if the water is too warm. Your assumption about to much sugar is correct. A starting potential alcohol of 19-20 percent is way too high especially when trying to ferment honey. You might need to add water to get it to an acceptable starting reading of around 10-13 percent to get the fermentation started. You can also try making a yeast starter to help with a stuck fermentation.

      Yeast Starter

  8. I am really new at wine making. I just got wine making equipment in January and I have successfully made rhubarb strawberry wine. I used a recipe for dandelion wine from a friend of mine who has recently passed. If I knew more about wine making I would have known that I added too much sugar by following the recipe. I do have a hydrometer and did take an initial reading was 1.050. The recipe calls for 9 pounds of sugar in 6 gallons. The hydrometer has not moved off 1.170. What do I need to do so I don’t end up with 6 gallons of wasted effort? Can I use the juice/wine and start over somehow?

    • Jane, you are correct that a reading of 1.170 is very high and will most likely result in a stuck fermentation because that is more than the yeast can handle. You can dilute the juice with water to get it within an appropriate range. The article posted below will provide a tool called the Pearson Square that will help you determine how much water you need to add. You may also need to adjust the acid once the juice is diluted.

      Too Much Sugar In My Juice

  9. Sir, I have a question and an insight. I often add more sugar( to obtain more alcohol) one fourth cup sugar per gallon wine. With it I add Fermax . I also just pour the sugar in straight and it seems to work. Can you speak about that? Thank you, Donna

    • Donna, there is nothing wrong with adding additional sugar to make more alcohol as long as it is within reason. Most wine yeast is made to ferment 13-14 percent alcohol. Adding nutrient is fine. It sounds like you are saying that you do not dissolve the sugar before adding it to the juice. We would recommend doing so otherwise it may not thoroughly mix into the must.

  10. Good post! I put too much sugar in my wine, and it stalled. I tried everything I could think of and nothing worked. Then I noticed how active my orange juice wine was. It occurred to me that acid could be the problem. I put in some wine tannin (tannic acid) and sure, enough, it started up again — very slowly, but surely. I’ll check out the Acid Blend. That’s probably a better answer in the future.

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