What a wonderful Christmas image Grapes covered in Snow, during the production of Ice Wine a variety of Sweet wine. Sweet wine or Desert wine as it is sometimes called is a type of wine produced in small amounts. There is no definate defination for sweet wine as many would consider wines such as sherry and Fortified Ports and Madeiras sweet wines yet they are general catergorised by themshelves. the first thing you will notice about sweet wines is they normal come in distinct bottles and are usually 375ml (half bottle) or 500ml in size. This is becuase it is customary to serve less sweet wine than you would normal wine.

How is Sweet wine made?

Makers of dessert wines want to produce a wine containing high levels of both sugar and alcohol, yet the alcohol is made from sugar. There are many ways to increase sugar levels in the final wine:

grow grapes so that they naturally have sugar to spare for both sweetness and alcohol.

  • add sugar, either:
    • before fermentation as sugar or honey (Chaptalization)
    • after fermentation as unfermented must (Süssreserve).
  • add alcohol (typically brandy) having not fermented all the natural sugar in the grape juice – this is called fortification or ‘mutage’.
  • remove water to concentrate the sugar:
    • In warm climates, by air drying the grapes to make raisin wine
    • In frosty climates, by freezing out some of the water to make ice wine
    • In damp temperate climates, by using a fungal infection, Botrytis cinerea, to desiccate the grapes with noble rot.
In the coming weeks I will discuss some of the various Sweet wines we have on offer including a Special fellow from Italy and a Sugar Daddy from New Zealand.
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