Everything that is important about sweet wines – and some recommendations
There are many wine lovers who prefer sweeter wines to drier types. What is sweet wine, how is it made and most importantly, which sweet wines are good? We have summarized everything worth knowing about the wine type in this post and have some recommendations for particularly good sweet wines for you!
What is sweet wine?
Sweet wine, also called dessert wine, is a sweet and full-bodied wine. Because of its sweet taste, this type of wine is often drunk for dessert after dinner, because it is well known that the wine should always be at least as sweet as the food. The sweet wine is sometimes also enjoyed as an aperitif. A sweet wine often tastes delicious with cheese. A typical and very popular sweet wine grape variety in Germany is above all Riesling. If the sweetness of the Riesling is well matched to the acid it contains, a very special noble sweet taste can arise. Other grape varieties that are well suited as sweet wines include Chardonnay, Muscatel and Silvaner. These grape varieties all have a high must weight, so they have a particularly large amount of natural, own sugar. In Germany, most high-quality sweet wines are still picked by hand and are therefore particularly valuable!
The production – and where does the sweetness of the wine come from?
The easiest way to make sweet wine is to add grape juice to dry fermented wine, which is often very sweet. However, this method is less popular nowadays, as the wine often becomes too sweet and no longer has a particular taste of its own.
Really high quality sweet wine is made entirely from the natural sugar found in grapes. Here the grapes are dried over a longer period of time, which increases the natural sugar content. In countries with a particularly warm climate, the grapes are often dried outside in the sun. In colder regions, the drying often takes place through the existing cold – this then results in ice wine, which is a special form of sweet wine.
But what happens when the grapes are dried?
Due to the alcohol contained in the red or white wine, the wine yeast disappears during the drying process. However, this happens before all of the sugar in the grapes has fermented into alcohol, which creates the sweet taste of the wine. Especially with very ripe grapes, the yeast is sometimes exhausted before all of the sugar has fermented and leaves some of the natural fructose in the wine. So sweet wine is sweet without added sugar and in a completely natural way! In general, the winemaker can also intervene in the fermentation and stop it. The winemaker can influence the degree of sweetness through fermentation. This is possible, for example, by controlling the temperature or filtering out the yeasts. The earlier fermentation is stopped, the more residual sugar remains in the wine, as this is no longer converted by yeasts into alcohol.
There are also sweet wines with a high alcohol content, such as ports. The high alcohol content is often only achieved by adding alcohol. So sweet wine often has a low alcohol content and a pleasant sweetness that comes purely from the fruit!
Sweet Wine causes headaches and other myths around sweet wines – are these true?
The myth that consuming sweet wine leads to headaches is widespread – but there isn’t much to it! Since sweet wine often only has a low alcohol content, the well-known hangover occurs the next day only if very large amounts of sweet wine are consumed.
The assumption that late harvest is always sweet is also widespread. This is also wrong, because the term “late harvest” can be used as soon as the grapes have a legally defined natural sugar content. This sugar content can also be completely fermented, so that a late harvest can also be dry.
Sweet wine is therefore not more unhealthy or harmful than dry wine according to its reputation and can score points with connoisseurs thanks to its pure fruit sweetness!
And of course the typical cliché: the wine connoisseur drinks dry, the amateur sweet. This common assumption is also wrong, because it is only a matter of personal taste! Sweet wines, for example, can age very well and mature in the bottle, so some of the most expensive bottles in the world are sweet wines that have become absolute collector’s items.
Our recommendations: The best sweet wines
Our winemaker Fritz Steitz has a large selection of sweet wines in their range. Our special recommendations are
These wines are not as sweet as ice wine, but they are often very popular.
This Chardonnay from Fritz Steitz is considered dry, but we recommend it as a delicious semi-dry wine.
Port wines from our range are also recommended.
Further recommendations for sweet wines are
Utschbebbes Fume by Winery B.A. Bürgermeister Schmitt
Huxel Beerenauslese by Winery B.A. Bürgermeister Schmitt