During the grape growing season, winemakers and vineyard managers monitor the composition of the grapes as an indicator of potential style and harvest time. Along with acidity, pH, and a host of other parameters, sugar content is one of these essential components. Depending on style, the amount of sugar present determines when the grape can be harvested.
Grape or cluster samples are strategically selected from the vineyard and carefully crushed and clarified into juice. The sugar, or total soluble solids (TSS) content can then be analyzed by a refractometer. Sugar accounts for 90 to 94% of the total soluble solids present. Typical units for TSS in the wine industry are °Brix, where 1 °Brix equals 1 gram of sugar per 100g of solution. Other units such as °Baume or Specific Gravity are used as well.
Below are the most common products measuring sugar and potential alcohol during the wine making process.
Digital Refractometers offer a simple way to measure the sugar content in grape juice. A small amount of juice is placed on a sealed prism and a temperature compensated measurement is then provided. All readings are automatically compensated for temperature variations.
A variety of digital refractometers are available including versions that can display results in Brix, Baume, and potential alcohol
Accessories include a brix standard to check a refractometer and refill pipettes that can be used to easily place a drop of solution on the prism of the refractometer.