Dessert Wine – Precious and Exquisite
The history of sweet wine began far ago in the Antiquity. One of the most popular wines of the age was a cypriotic raisin wine called ‘passum’. In medieval times, sweet wine was also considered a rare luxury by the high nobility. The great discovery expeditions that began with the onset of the modern era also played a role in the propagation of such wines – as a staple of the non-perishable provisions for long sea voyages, Portwine, Sherry, Sauternes and Vin Santo conquered the world.
Sweet Wine - High Residual Sugar and Must Weight
According to EU Wine Law, wines with residual sugar of at least 45 g/l are classed as sweet, and for sweet sparkling wine the minimum is 50 g/l. Some kinds of sweet wine even have a sugar density considerably higher than these minimums. For example: Tokaji Eszencia – a Hungarian dessert wine - reaches a weight of over 450 g/l. The prerequisite for the production of sweet wines is the high must weight effected by the respective sugar concentration in the grapes. These wines are pressed, for example, from fully ripe grapes or grapes with ‘noble rot’, a benign grey fungus. Very high quality sweet wine specialities are straw wines or raisin wines such as the Italian Recioto or the German Beerenauslese wines, which are also ranked amongst the top international wines. With ‘Qualitätswein’ (especially high quality wine) and Prädikatswein (superior quality wine), adding sugar after fermentation is prohibited.
Sweet Wines – Naturally Sweet or Fortified
A portion of the sweet wines available on today's market is produced from naturally sweet grapes, i.e. without artificial manipulation of the fermentation process. Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, Straw Wines and Ice Wines are some examples. Other versions such as Madeira, Malaga, Portwine or Sherry are fortified with distilled spirits, which increases their alcohol content but also results in a premature ending of the fermentation process.