Sweet wines may be easy to drink, but they can be quite complicated to make. Winemakers must pull sugar out of the grapes. Simply adding sugar to the fermentation process isn’t acceptable for most quality sweet wines.
There are several ways to draw the most sugar possible out of the grapes. One common method is to let the grapes over-ripen on the vine before picking them, which cuts the fermentation process short. Another method used in the making of prestigious sweet wines from the old world is Botrytis. Botrytis is a fungus that concentrates the sugars on healthy grapes, however it lowers mass, which means this method requires a lot more grapes to make a glass. Drying grapes out to concentrate their sugars is one of the oldest methods used to make sweet wines, dating as far back as ancient Greece.
Sweet Red Wines
Red sweet wines have gained popularity over recent years and are quickly starting to take attention away from the better-known, lighter dessert wines like muscats, rieslings and white zins that are familiar amongst occasional wine drinkers.
Some use sweet red wines as a bridge to help their palate to graduate from white wine to drier red wines. Port is a commonly known sweet wine, however this thick wine can be quite intense and filling with high levels of alcohol. A rule of thumb is the lower the alcohol content the sweeter a red wine will be. Italy is at the forefront of red sweet wines, offering a wide selection from regions all over the country.
Italian Sweet Wines
Italian sweet wines come in a variety of styles. They can be sparkling wines, crisp white wines or thick, syrupy red wines. Grapes commonly used to craft Italian sweet wines include:
Of all the types of sweet wine available today, Italy’s Lambrusco style sparkling wine is among the most famous and well-received.