Bottle of Port Wine with a Port glass

Understanding  the Sweetness in Wine

Are you a wine lover with a sweet tooth? Or maybe you’re new to wine and simply just curious about the sweeter side of the wine world. Either way, this guide will help you navigate the vinous landscape to identify which wine is sweet.

Sweet Wines 101

In the world of wine, the sweetness you taste comes from what’s known as residual sugar. The residual sugar is sugar that remains after the fermentation process has stopped. Now, if a vintner decides to press pause on fermentation before the yeast has had a chance to convert all the sugar into alcohol, what you end up with is a sweeter wine.

However, this sugar-halting strategy isn’t a common practice in many well-known wine styles. Take Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, for instance. These popular varieties typically undergo a full fermentation process, leading to a drier, less sweet wine.

But sweetness isn’t a one-note song in winemaking. Other players contribute to the symphony of flavors that can make a wine taste sweet. Elements like acidity and tannins can play a pivotal role in shaping a wine’s sweetness perception, adding another layer of complexity to your wine experience.

Renowned Sweet Wines

Port: Originating from Portugal, Port is a fortified wine that boasts a high sugar content. Its rich, sweet character comes in flavors like blackberry, caramel, and chocolate.

Sauternes: This French wine from the Bordeaux region is made from grapes affected by ‘noble rot’, a beneficial fungus that concentrates the sugar in grapes. Sauternes is noted for its luscious honey and apricot notes.

Late Harvest Wines: These wines are made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual, resulting in high sugar content. They can be produced from various grapes like Riesling and Zinfandel, and have a distinct, concentrated sweetness.

Ice Wine (Eiswein): Produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, Ice Wines are intensely sweet and vibrant with acidity. They are produced in colder regions, such as Germany and Canada.

Moscato d’Asti: From the Piedmont region in Italy, Moscato d’Asti is a sweet, lightly fizzy wine with flavors of peaches, orange blossom, and nectarines.

Spotting Sweet Wines

Wine labels can often give clues about the sweetness of the wine. Terms like ‘dolce’ or ‘doux’ indicate sweetness. In German wines, terms such as ‘Spätlese’, ‘Auslese’, ‘Beerenauslese’ and ‘Eiswein’ indicate progressively sweeter wines. You can also browse the Sippd app and view different wine cards. These informative cards are your pocket sommelier, providing insights into the unique characteristics of each wine.

So remember, when it comes to identifying which wine is sweet, it’s all about understanding the winemaking process, knowing key sweet wine styles, and being able to decipher wine labels. With this knowledge in hand, and with a little help from the Sippd app, you’ll be well-equipped to select a sweet wine that will satisfy your palate!