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I've been thinking of making orange wine. I have found a few recipes online, though I'm not sure if these recipes make sense.

The first one:

https://homefarmer.co.uk/orange-wine-recipe/

Two more:

http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques33.asp

The first recipe listed seems to use a lot of sugar - 3 pounds for 6.5 pints (I think that will come to ~ 3 litres, < 1 gallon). And then there's the juice from oranges on top of that, which will have more sugar!

The first recipe on the second page I linked calls for just over 1 pound for a total of 1 gallon of liquid (including the juice from the oranges).

And then the second recipe on the second page also calls for 3 pounds of sugar.

Is there a reason that orange wine recipes seem to call for so much sugar? Is it likely that the sugar will be consumed during fermentation, producing a dry, high-alcohol drink, or is the quantity of sugar so high to ensure a sweeter final product?

EDIT: "Way-back Machine" archive.org links, as originals are offline

The first one:

https://web.archive.org/web/20171111153551/https://homefarmer.co.uk/orange-wine-recipe/

Two more: https://web.archive.org/web/20200112160234/http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques33.asp

  • First recipe link is 403 Forbidden for me right now. Second link is HTTP Error 503. – Kingsley Jun 29 at 8:10
  • @Kingsley And now I wished I'd saved the recipes. There were other recipes that I found at the time, all somewhat different. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 13 at 17:39
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    I found them on web.archive.org, please see edit above. – Kingsley Nov 13 at 23:58
  • @Kingsley I'd completely forgotten about web archive! Thanks! :) – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 16 at 19:58
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Just fermenting orange juice alone won't get you into a "wine" like strength. There isn't enough sugar in pure OJ alone. So these recipes include the addition of sugar to get the alcohol up. And yes the sugar will get "consumed during fermentation" to be more accurate... it will get fermented. It is not likely to be a sweet finishing product as the pure sugar is completely fermentable.

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  • Ok, and I guess if I used the recipe with less sugar, I'd just end up with a product with less alcohol. Would you know how to estimate potential alcohol content for 3 pounds of sugar in 1 gallon (knowing that any sugar in the oranges might increase that estimate slightly)? – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 7 '17 at 15:30
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The sugar will be consumed - up to a point. I have no experience making orange wine with cane sugar, but yeast can only convert just so much sugar to alcohol before the alcohol level becomes self-toxic. The amount depends on the yeast.

I have used this technique to great advantage making mead, where simply varying the about of honey in the ferment takes you from a dry mead, through semi sweet, to "dessert wine" like sweetness. This is how the "Joe's Ancient Orange" mead works so well.

So now I'm really guessing, but I'd reckon that a super-dry orange sugar-wine would be nasty, whereas an orange sweet dessert-wine would be delicious. So the recipe calls for a lot of sugar to push it into sweetness.

Maybe consider adding a generous amount of of yeast nutrients to keep the yeast going.

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