Checking The Residual Sugar
It is absolutely imperative that your wine has finished fermenting to dryness prior to bottling. If the wine is not stabilized prior to bottling, the residual sugar will cause the wine to referment within the bottle and can cause it to explode. Although a simple taste-test will tell you whether your wine is too sweet, you’ll want to use a Hydrometer to check the residual sugar level of your wine. Ideally, your wine should be between -1.5 to -2.5 Brix. If your wine is above this reading, add Potassium Sorbate right before bottling the wine (at ¾ of a teaspoon per gallon of wine). You’ll want make sure that your wine’s sulfur dioxide level is between 30 & 50 parts per million. If it’s too low, you can add Potassium Metabisulite to level the sulfur dioxide level out. A ¼ teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulfate crystals into five gallons of wine will produce about 40 ppm.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your wine is too astringent or bitter, adding Kieselsol and Chitosan to your wine will reduce the excess harshness of the tanins. Add the Kieselsol then the Chitosan 24 hours later. The combination of these two will also help clarify the wine as the Kieselsol has a negative charge and will attract the positively-charged protein hazes and the Chitosan has a positive charge and will attract the negatively-charged protein hazes. You’ll want to let your red wine sit for two weeks and your white wine sit for three weeks prior to reracking.