What divides a dry wine from a sweet wine is the level of residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation?

up vote 5 down vote accepted

No, they are not related at all. Except when they are. Let me explain. There are a couple of ways to make a wine sweet.

  1. Ferment to dryness, filter and then add something sweet.
  2. Make a wine with so much sugar that the yeast can't finish
  3. Stop fermentation before it ends (filtering or alcohol) and leave some sweetness

Almost all grapes can be made into sweet wine by one of these methods, but not all of them are as tasty as others. Some grapes, like Riesling, can make both an excellent sweet dessert style wine and a dry wine. Then others like Cabernet Sauvignon are rarely made into sweet wine. It has to do with the tannins. The one exception to this is Port and Madeira where they make sweet wines from red grapes but these are meant to age.

So, to answer your question. No, sweet wines don't have to be related to a specific grape, but they are for taste purposes and not on the physical properties of the grapes.

Sweetness largely depends on the level of residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation (which may be stopped in order to increase the sugar left).

But it does not mean that all grape varieties have the same sweetness. Muscat grape is usually sweeter than other grapes.

Please also note that adding sugar to must is strictly forbidden in Italy, except for sparkling wines.

Edit: Another important technique to have sweeter wine is to dry grapes. Incidentally, the Amarone/Recioto couple is a typical examples for both sweet and dry wines from the same grape.

  • Thank you for the answer @user3664452 – Insha Darwaish Nov 28 at 14:19
  • The sweetness level in grapes does not mean that they are sweeter in the bottle. That is up to the winemaker. Also, adding sugar is mostly against the law in Europe, except in some places. In the USA, it mostly allowed but hardly used since most of our grapes get ripe enough. – farmersteve Nov 28 at 23:19

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