Wine is a drink that comes in many flavors, sweet white wine is a variety of white wine that has a higher than average residual sugar content thus making it taste sweeter. In the wine world sweet is the opposite of dry and is also distinctly different from fruity. Understanding how wine is made can help explain why certain wines are sweeter than others.
White wine is created by first pressing the grapes to produce juice and then adding yeast to the juice to allow it to ferment. Alcohol is primarily made from sugars so the fermentation process is designed to convert those sugars into alcohol by using yeast and the element of time. Sweet white wine is created when this process is cut short allowing some of the sugar to remain unconverted and thereby sweetening the overall taste of the wine.
When a wine is labelled as being fruity, meaning that you can taste and smell various fruits within it, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the wine is sweet. Sweet wine is about residual sugar content (rs) not the aroma of fruits. If you want to know the true nature of a wine, simply plug your nose and take a sip, if it is sweet you will taste the sugar within the sip.
How to Tell if a Wine is Sweet:
There are several clues on the label of a bottle that can help you to understand whether a wine is likely to be sweet or not, short of simply reading the description. Wines with a higher than average alcohol content such as sherry have most likely been fortified by adding spirit to the mix, this will increase the overall sweetness of the wine. On the other side are wines with a very low alcohol content such as Rieslings, which have had their fermentation process stopped early in order to increase the sugar content. The last category includes wines that have had sugar added in, they have a typical alcohol content but taste sweeter than other wines. When reading the label look for something called a residual sugar content to see how sweet the wine is supposed to be.
How To Make Sweet White Wine:
Sweet wine is created using a variety of different methods, below is a sampling of the most popular ones.
Noble Rot: A natural way to increase sweetness in wine is to allow the grapes to remain on the vine late into the harvesting season. The grapes become infected with a bacteria called botrytis cinerea or noble rot which rots the outside layer of the grape to create a raisin but concentrates the inner sugars so that once fermentation happens the wine is sweeter.
Stopping Fermentation: Grapes that have been picked in season and are not infected with rot will generally not create sweet wine, but if fermentation is stopped before all of the sugar is converted into alcohol then the wine will have a residual sugar content higher than average. One side effect of this however is that the alcohol content will be lower so many types of wine are then fortified usually with grape spirit (brandy) in order to bring back up or even increase the alcohol content of the wine. One popular type of fortified wine is Sherry.
Adding Sugar: This is an artificial way of creating sweetness, the grapes are picked during the harvest season and are not late so they are not infected with rot. The alcohol content is also about normal, so all that’s left to do is simply to add sugar to create sweet wine.
Freezing the Grapes: This is done in order to create ice wine. The grapes are not harvested until late in the season and are allowed to frost over, this solidifies the liquids and concentrates the sugar creating a sweeter wine.
Types of Sweet White Wine:
Ice Wine: This type of sweet white wine can only be produced in colder climates. For this reason currently production of ice wine only occurs in Germany, Canada and the United States. It is made from grapes that are allowed to freeze as they are still growing on the vine, this process freezes the liquids inside the grapes but leaves the sugar more concentrated, classifying this as a late harvest wine. The frozen grapes are then pressed and fermented, creating a smaller quantity of very crisp refreshing sweet wine. Because it is a highly labour intensive wine to produce it generally tends to be somewhat expensive.
Moscato: One of the oldest cultivated grape varieties, its color ranges from white to near black. It is grown for wine, raisins and table grapes. Its aroma is pronounced and sweetly floral. It is used in various parts of the world to make dessert and fortified wine. It is typically picked late harvest and may or may not be affected by botrytis cinerea or noble rot.
Sherry: Only wine produced in the Jerez de la Frontera region of Spain can legally be labelled Sherry. The name Sherry is an anglicisation of the name Jeres. This is a wine that ranges from dry to sweet depending on the type and is fortified with grape spirit to increase the alcohol content. The Spanish region of Jerez has been a wine producing region since the Phoenician times of 1100 BCE.
Tokaji: A Hungarian wine famous for being served to the royal family, it is grown in the Tokaj region of Hungary and Slovakia. The Hungarian wine is labelled Tokaji, in Slovakia it is labelled Tokajské. The grape is affected by noble rot before being fermented. Tokaji is mentioned in the national anthem of Hungary.
Sauternes: A French sweet white wine from the Sauternais region of Bordeaux, made by allowing the grapes to rot and thereby concentrating the sugars within to produce a sweet wine. Because of the labor intensive nature of production and the uncertainty of the rot it is generally an expensive wine to buy.
Late Harvest Wines: This is a generic classification for sweet wine, all of the above categories of sweet white wine except Sherry are classified as late harvest wine. By allowing the grapes to stay growing on the vine later into the season several things can happen that later are instrumental in producing sweet wine. The bacteria botrytis cinerea also known as noble rot can affect the grapes by rotting them on the outside and making them look raisin like but concentrating the sugars on the inside for added sweetness. Ice wine is harvested later in the season than any other wine, sometimes as late as into the new year.
- muscat crocant
- orange muscat
- black muscat
- muscat ottonel
- muscat of alexandria
- moscatel de setùbal
- muscat rosé
- muscat blank
Types of Wine:
- table and sparkling wine
- dessert and fortified wine
- yellow muscat
|Types of Wine:|
- Pedro Jimenez
|Types of Wine:|
- Jerez Dulce
- sauvignon blanc
|Ice Wine||Grape Varieties:|
- Vidal blanc
- Cabernet Franc
- experimentation being done with various other grapes
|Types of Wine:|
- German eiswein
- Canadian ice wine
- American ice wine
|Late Harvest Wine||- all of the above are late harvest wines||Types of wine:|
- all of the above