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Introduction to Sweet Wines

Sweet wines have a unique following. Some scout for a sweet wine as their candied introduction to the world of wine, as a toothsome path from sweet, flavored sodas to the drier lines of regionally-inspired red and white wine. Others prefer the full-bodied flavors (and often sweeter styles) of fortified wine, be it Port or PX Sherry, as an after-dinner treat complete with strong cheese or a variety of desserts.

What Makes a Wine Sweet? A wine is rendered sweet due to its residual sugar (RS) content. When grapes are brought in from harvest they are crushed and then put through fermentation. During fermentation, the sugar is converted to alcohol by yeast. If fermentation is halted prior to complete conversion from sugar to alcohol, some of the sugar will reside in the wine, hence the term "residual sugar." Obviously, the more residual sugar in a wine, the sweeter the wine will be.