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Wine Articles: How are sweet wines made?

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There are numerous types and styles of non-fortified (dessert) wine. While none of the winemaking processes involves adding grape spirit to halt the fermentation process artificially, all of them require the premature cessation of the fermentation process, leaving behind varying residual sugar levels.

The most common cause of fermentation cessation in non-fortified dessert wines is the extraordinary sugar levels of the fermenting grapes, which naturally drives the alcohol level above 15% by volume. In other cases, the fermentation is stopped by lowering the temperature to a point where the fermenting yeast becomes dormant, thereby leaving residual sugar, but much lower alcohol by volume. Another method involves adding back sweet grape must to a fully fermented wine to provide the residual sugar. In all cases, non-fortified dessert wines are wonderful accompaniments to many different after dinner treats. In the followings, we are going to introduces different kinds of dessert wine.

Sauternes is a sweet dessert wine made in the Bordeaux region of France from the appellation of Sauternes, south of Graves.  The noble rot is responsible for the honeyed, sometimes toffee-like flavors that are associated with Sauternes.

Beerenauslese are made from hand picked grapes that are pressed apart from the remainder of the harvest to create one of the world greatest sweet dessert wines. BA wines are very sweet, but they also possess, like most German wines, high natural acidity, so the wines are always very well balanced. Like Sauternes, BA wines have great aging potential and are usually very expensive and rare.

Eiswein is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine and pressed before they thaw. Eiswein is generally lighter in body than BA wines, but still possess great balance and aging potential. Because true Eiswein requires natural freezing on the vine, the wines are very rare and very expensive.

Trockenbeerenauslese are hand picked only after theybing have stayed long enough on the vine to become almost completely dry. TBA wines are extraordinarily sweet, but they also possess, like most German wines, high natural acidity, so the wines are always very well balanced. TBA wines have great aging potential and are usually very expensive and rare, even more so than BA and Eiswein.

Champagne Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux
The terms Sec, Demi-sec and Doux in French refer to three (of six) sweetness levels for Champagne (sparkling wine). Sec Champagne is only slightly sweet, Demi-sec is somewhat sweet and Doux is very sweet.

Moscato d’asti
Moscato d’asti is a lightly sweet, lightly effervescent wine made from the Moscato or Muscat grape around the town of Asti in Piedmont Italy. Moscato d’asti is very light-bodied and delicate, making it an excellent accompaniment to lighter desserts. Moscato d’asti is not meant for aging and is never very expensive. Styles vary, with some makers retaining more sweetness, while others make a drier version with more sparkle.

Vin Santo
Vin Santo is a wine produced primarily in the Tuscany region of Italy (the home of Chianti and Brunello). For Vin Santo production, the grapes are first dried in lofts throughout the winter, which concentrates the grape sugar and creates a raisin-like flavor.

This entry was published on September 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm. It’s filed under Wine Articles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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