Why Do You Need a Refractometer In Winemaking?
Well, in simple words; winemaking is the production of wine. At the end of the production, the grapes end in bottles as the expensive wine you drink. You can divide the Wine Production as still wine production and sparkling wine. In still wine, you don’t get that carbonated feeling, and in sparkling wine, you get the carbonated feeling.
Why do you need a Refractometer for the wine production? Well, the Refractometer helps you in measuring the sugar content in the grape juice. This simple, portable device allows you to determine the ripeness of the grapes. So, the farmer can understand the proper time to harvest the fruits.
What is a Refractometer?: Vineyard managers and the winemakers love this device. What do you think? Is it an expensive device? No, this inexpensive device has an outer structure made of rubber, plastic, and metal. The outer structure protects the inside pieces (highly polished optical glass, prisms, and mirrors.)
How does the Refractometer work?: It uses the principal of the Snell’s law. You have to place the sample underneath the daylight plate. Look through the monocular eyepiece holding the Refractometer in natural light (then you can read the scale.) Well, I explained the use of it for the winemakers. The meter lets you know the percentage Brix. Yes, I know; now you are wondering, “what is Brix?” It’s the relative sugar weight of the sample of the grape juice compared to distilled water. OK, it’s not just for grapes, you can use it for other fruits as well.
The meter works like a prism. Depending on the sugar content, the meter reacts differently to light. Calibrating your meter is important before taking the readings. You can calibrate the meter using distilled water, or special calibration liquid (it depends on the type of meter you have.)
Maintaining your Refractometer: Maintaining the meter is an essential to get accurate readings. Exposing the meter to damp working conditions makes the meter go bad soon. Also, immersing the meter in water could damage it. Servicing a Refractometer needs a qualified technician or contact the dealer. Abrasive and corrosive chemicals measuring is not recommended with the meter.
Using a soft, damp cloth; clean the meter between each measurement. Cleaning the prism on a regular basis is a must for preventing the damages. The pieces inside the meter are delicate, so handle and store it carefully. If you maintain the meter well, it will serve you for years.
Buying the meter: Buy it according to your purpose. Know the highest to lowest range of readings. If you only consider the price (the cheapest,) you would end up buying a low-quality Refractometer. The cheaper ones are difficult to read, difficult to adjust the focus, and will not fit over the reader’s eye. How can you calibrate the Refractometer? Some meters need a special liquid for calibration, and some don’t. Buying a meter that can calibrate with distilled water would save you money long-term.
Some final words: A refractometer lets you know the sugar levels of the wine grapes and other fruits. Knowing the sugar level lets you determine the right harvesting time. Follow this link to see what the Wikipedia says about the instrument (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refractometer.)