Definition - What does Sweet Wine mean?
Sweet is used to categorize wines with a residual sugar amount of 45g/L or more. It is the opposite of dry. The alcohol level is, on average, between 15% and 22%. There are four ways to produce sweet wine:
- Botryis Also called noble rot, this is a fungus that eats at the sugar in wine grapes; it creates complex, flavorful sweet wines.
- Late Harvest When grapes are left to ripen on the vinefor longer than the norm, they generate more sugar in the juices; the grapes are dried, concentrating the sugars. This creates wines with sticky honey, deep fruit flavors and floral bouquets.
- Icewine >Grapes are frozen naturally on the vines and the frozen fruit is pressed; the juice is less watery and contains concentrated sugars. This yields delicious, honeyed wines.
- Fortified wine Neutral grape spirits (like brandy) are added to the wine during fermentation to halt the process. This creates a wine with a high level of sugar and alcohol.
WineFrog explains Sweet Wine
The taste "sweet" is relative - our brain interprets the varying characteristics of a wine and determines, based on our personal preference, whether or not the wine tastes sweet. The requirement of a wine to have over 45g/L of residual sugar is a necessity to classify wines as sweet, because they don’t always taste that way.
The sweet taste of a wine is determined by the interaction of sugar, alcohol, acids and tannins. Sugars and alcohol enhance a wine’s sweetness while acids and tannins counteract it. The trick for the winemaker is to find the right balance of factors to create a balanced with all the nuances required in a quality vino.
Sweet wines are most commonly white, though there are some reds used especially for fortified wines. Some of the more common types of sweet wine are:
- Dessert wines (Sauternes, Icewine)
- Fortified wines (Port, Shery)
- Chenin Blanc
- Trevino Furman