Terms for the Sweetness Level of Wine

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Pick up on sweetness and other flavor notes — store wine properly.

As a wine connoisseur, you should know at least some basic descriptive terms for the flavor of wine. There are four categories for wine tasting, and they are: Fruit Level, Sweetness Level, Body Profile, and Finish. There is plenty to learn about each category. Keeping the wine in a proper wine cellar or in a wine fridge will help to ensure that the flavor nuances can be detected with the taste buds. Liebherr Wine Cabinets are top quality wine refrigerators, offering a variety of under-the-counter models. The following is about terminology for the Sweetness Level of wine.

About Wine Sweetness

There is excess glucose from grape juice in wine that isn’t totally fermented, which is called residual sugar (RS), and this is where wines get their sweetness. In this one wine tasting category, there are four levels, which are: Bone dry, dry, off dry, and sweet.

Bone Dry

The proper term for extreme dryness in wine that has no RS is “bone dry,” and it includes a noticeable level of astringency. The astringency in red wine is from tannin, savory flavors, or both. The astringency in white wines is often referred to by winemakers and sommeliers as “phenolic bitterness.”  This taste is often said to be similar to quince fruit or grapefruit pith. Specific bone dry wines include Riesling Tradition Hugel Alsace Lorraine Bone Dry from Hugel et Fils winery in South Africa and Red Bone Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley from Stefani Estate winery in Sonoma County, California.

Dry Wine

The RS in dry wine ranges between none and 1 gram for every 5 ounce serving. Most wines are categorized as dry. White wines that are always produced in dry style include Pinot Grigio, Blanc, and Sauvignon. Other dry wines include Viognier, dry Rieslings Chardonnay, and Semillon. Common flavor notes in dry wine include peach flowers, yellow apple, pineapple, and sweet lemon.

Off Dry Wine

Wines with a hint of residual sugar have a slightly sweet element and are referred to as “off dry.” Most commonly, off dry wines are white wines. Occasionally, a quality off dry red wine is produced in Italy. There are two basic types of off dry wine. With one, the nose or palate can detect the small amount of sugar. With the second, the alcohols are produced to have a sweet aspect; with this kind, the wine has a significant amount of glycerol produced during fermentation and/or lactic acid.

Sweet Wine

Sweet wines are commonly described as dessert wines. Per 5 ounce glass, there is a wide range of sweetness in these wines – specifically, from 3 to 28 grams of sugar. These wines literally pair well with desserts. Some of the wines on Earth considered lusciously sweet include Tawny Port, German and Canadian Ice Wine, Rutherglen Muscat, and Tokaji.

Proper wine storage is essential, to be able to pick up on the nuances in the flavor of wine. It’s helpful to store wine in a wine cellar or a wine refrigerator, which maintains optimal temperatures and humidity levels for wine.