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I want the answers to be geared towards meads/wines if possible.

There seems to be so many things to measure. Which are the ones that really matter? I've started spending a lot of time taking all these measurements. If all are important, how often do I need to take each one?

Measurements that I see as important

  • S.G. - Specific Gravity
  • pH
  • TA - total acid
  • Free s02
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My recommendation is to experiment. Track data until it becomes apparent that its variation has no/little effect. Then share your results with us! – Nathan Oct 14 '11 at 4:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

S.G. - Measure at least daily. This is important to monitor when you want to add DAP & Ferment-K in your nutrient schedule Measure until at least the 1/3 sugar break.

pH - Many wine makers claim that the best time to adjust the pH is during the primary fermentation. The ideal pH is 3.7 but 3.5-3.9 works very well. I've had higher pH in some wines & meads drop as the primary fermentation goes on. From what I understand, you really want to consider adjusting it for taste at the end, unless the pH is too low. A low pH can result in a possible infection.

TA - same as pH

s02 - I could use some guidance on this still

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IMHO - SG = absolutely but the general recommendation that I have seen is no more than once or twice a month to avoid potential contamination. Free SO2 = not so much. TA and pH- only thing that I know with respect to mead (I haven't done a wine yet) is that the pH should be kept around 5. I'd tend to measure these last two no more than once a week and adjust as necessary at the start of the brewing and aging. Of course if you are fastidious about sterile technique and keeping your carboy closed as much as possible when drawing a sample for testing, the frequency probably isn't that much of an issue. But what I was taught was that in the cases of ciders and mead, it takes time for these to develop and mature.

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pH needs to be closer to 4. S.G. needs to be more often to manage nutrient schedule. What you say about age improving mead is absolutely true. However, I consider fermentation management and aging separate processes. – Adam Kalnas Oct 27 '11 at 14:33

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