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Measuring Sweetness in Grapes

Sugar is not everything, of course - but the must weight, i.e. the sugar content of the grapes at harvest, is definitely a decisive criterion when it comes to the perfect time to harvest!

🧐 Why is that? Well, without sugar there is no alcohol - the must weight therefore helps to determine how much alcohol a wine will later have and is therefore also decisive for the wine style. This is precisely why most wine-growing regions, especially in Europe, have so-called minimum must weights - the wine law specifies exactly how much sugar the grapes must contain for which wine.

The sugar is measured with a refractometer, which you already know from the last post - or it is determined in the laboratory. However, the unit of measurement in which the result is given varies from country to country:

🍇 In Germany and Switzerland, they measure in Oechsle.

🍇 In other European countries and in Australia, Baumé is commonly used.

🍇 Brix is common in the United States and South Africa.

🍇 In Austria, the Klosterneuburger Mostwaage (KMW) system is used.

A calculation example: 13 vol. % = approx. 100 Oechsle = approx. 13 Baumé = approx. 23.4 Brix = approx. 20 KMW 💡

Phew, do you have to remember all that now? No, fortunately not - that's why there are clever charts that winemakers also use to look it up 😉

The important thing is: determining the must weight, in whatever unit of measurement, is a decisive step on the way from grape to wine!

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