View your hydrometer floating in the juice sample
at eye level. The balling scale is the brix or sugar percentage.
In addition to the balling scale, a triple scale
hydrometer offers a scale for specific gravity and for potential alcohol.
A standard size triple scale hydrometer needs a 10" hydrometer jar.
It is a must have item for winemaking
(and brewing, too).
BEFORE you begin fermentation, please take a hydrometer reading. A stable wine has 9 to 14
percent alcohol. In order to achieve this level of alcohol, the juice or fruit to be fermented must have an
adequate sugar level. General conversion of sugar to alcohol is approximately 58% (0.575%~). A brix of 21 degrees
yields around 12% alcohol.
Take the reading from the bottom of the meniscus (see illustration above. The balling/ brix scale is the
brix or sugar percentage.
TEMPERATURE ADJUSTMENTS: Most hydrometers are calibrated for a sample at a certain temperature and will
give adjustment factors in with their instructions. Brix test is a measurement of dissolved solids in a juice/wine
being tested. Should there be any alcohol in the wine sample, the test would be properly called a Balling. The
actual testing procedure is, however, identical.
1. Adjust the temperature of the juice sample required as indicated on the hydrometer stem. If the
sample contains any carbon dioxide gas, the gas should be removed by careful agitation.
2. Pour sample into clean and dry hydrometer jar up to about 2 inches from the top. If your jar is not
dry, rinse it with some of the juice.
3. Insert clean and dry hydrometer, holding the top of the hydrometer stem in a pendulum
4. Spin the hydrometer in the sample.
5. Read the instrument at the bottom of the meniscus (see illustration above).
6. Retake temperature immediately and make necessary adjustments per hydrometer instructions that are
packed in the tube. If your hydrometer is not packed in a tube, you will need to buy a hydrometer jar.
Reading a +5-5 hydrometer: If the reading is below a (negative) -1.5 degrees or -2 degrees, then the wine is dry. If the
hydrometer is higher than a (negative) -1.5, such as a 0 reading or a plus 1 degrees, then there is residual
sugar and one may attempt to restart or bottle as a sweet wine, using pressure safe bottles or Potassium
Sorbate as a preservative.
A specialty hydrometer will need a larger jar, not the fermtech jar but a regular 14" jar.