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How To Use The Hydrometer

Posted by Serge K on

It's really pretty easy to use the hydrometer: just follow these simple steps:

  1. Sanitize the hydrometer, wine thief, and test jar.
  2. Place test cylinder on flat surface.
  3. Draw a sample of "clean" must or wine with the wine thief - avoid testing samples that contain solid particles, since this will affect the readings.
  4. Fill the test jar with enough liquid to just float the hydrometer - about
    80% full.
  5. Gently lower the hydrometer into the test jar; spin the hydrometer as you release it, so no bubbles stick to the bottom of the hydrometer
    (this can also affect readings).
  6. Making sure the hydrometer isn't touching the sides of the test jar and is floating freely, take a reading across the bottom of the meniscus (see diagram). Meniscus is a fancy word for the curved surface of the liquid.
  7. Be sure to keep good records of your readings!
  • Use the potential alcohol scale on your hydrometer to determine the alcohol content of your wine or beer
  • To increase the specific gravity (and consequently the alcohol content) add sugar. 1 cup approx. = 10 points on the S.G. scale.
  • These examples are to be used as a guide only. Alcohol results are approximate, due to differences in measurement & temperature.

Example 1 Red Wine
Date Specific Gravity
April 14 1.090
April 22 1.020
May 5 0.994
Starting potential alcohol
11.8%
Actual finished alcohol 12.5%

Example 2 White Wine
Date Specific Gravity
April 14 1.070
April 22 1.020
May 5 0.994
Starting potential alcohol
9.3%
Actual finished alcohol 10%
Example 3 Beer
Date Specific Gravity
April 14 1.040
April 22 1.020
May 5 1.005
Starting potential alcohol
5.3%
Actual finished alcohol 5%

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