Fall is upon us, and so is the harvesting season. As winemakers prepare for another season of tasty wines, many wonder how they can make this batch of beverages better than their last. A little tweaking of the winemaking process can go a long way, and experts have discovered the value of a key ingredient — sugars and sweeteners. Through a process known as chaptalization, sugar has played a significant role in the quality of wines across the world.
What is Chaptalization?
Put simply, chaptalization is the practice of adding sugar to wine. According to Wine Folly, chaptalization is primarily practiced in the Northern hemisphere, where the weather is cooler. Grapes are not always optimally ripe in these climates, which means they are sour and acidic without the added sugar. Chaptalization is typically undetectable and ensures the quality of a wine, even if its grapes are harvested in places with unpredictable temperatures.
Why Use Chaptalization in Winemaking?
Contrary to popular belief, the goal of chaptalization is not to make wine sweeter. If a grape is not ripe, it is unable to reach a wine’s required alcohol percentage. When sugar is added prior to fermentation, yeast is able to ferment into alcohol and increase the alcohol content of the wine. In places like Italy or California, where grapes can become too ripe, chaptalization is actually illegal. These areas may instead practice acidification, which involves adding acids to lower the pH and increase the acidity of a wine.
Some wine experts frown upon chaptalization, claiming that it negatively affects the taste and quality of wine. The process only impacts the alcohol percentage of a wine, but critics debate that — particularly in high-end, expensive bottles — an overly acidic lack of complexity can be tasted. If you’re looking to craft a well-balanced wine with simple quality, however, chaptalization is a great way to do so.
Getting Started With Chaptalization
The best way to start practicing chaptalization in winemaking is to find a reliable sugar provider near you. By having access to a quality local sugar and sweetener distributor, you won’t risk experiencing the negative effects of a less than satisfactory harvest. The sugar most commonly used in chaptalization is granulated, or white, sugar. This product is often sourced from cane, but can come from beets as well — a popular hit in Michigan. In some cases, corn syrup or sugar substitutes are also used in chaptalization. Any of these products can be purchased in bulk quantities, so your winery is always stocked with the ingredients you need.
For winemakers battling finicky weather that tampers with harvest season, chaptalization still gives you the perfect wine — and Bremer has the ingredients to help you get there. Bremer Authentic Ingredients started as Bremer Sugar & Distributing in 1946 and has been supplying Michigan and Northern Indiana with quality bulk sugars and sweeteners ever since. Get in touch with us for all of your chaptalization needs.