Sweet white wine, synonymous with elegance and refinement, is a jewel of the wine world. Whether served as a summer aperitif or with dessert, its sweetness and fruity aromas are sure to seduce.
In this article, we invite you to discover the fascinating world of sweet white wine, how it’s made, its unique characteristics and tips on how to enjoy every drop.
How is sweet white wine produced?
Sweet white wine is the result of a special winemaking process. The aim is to preserve a high level of residual sugars in the wine.
Several techniques are used to achieve this, including interrupting fermentation or using over-ripe or botrytized grapes. The choice of method depends on the type of wine the winemaker wishes to obtain and the climatic conditions of the wine-growing region.
The different types of sweet white wine
Sweet white wines are highly diverse. They can be classified according to their sugar content, the grape variety used or their region of origin.
Among the most famous are Sauternes from the Bordeaux region, Tokaji from Hungary and Riesling from Alsace. Each has its own characteristics that make the tasting experience unique.
How to enjoy a sweet white wine
It’s important to pay attention to serving temperature, tasting order and food pairings. For example, a sweet white wine goes perfectly with sweet and savory dishes, blue-veined cheeses or desserts. It’s a rich sensory experience that requires time and attention.
The impact of terroir on sweet white wine
Terroir plays a crucial role in the production of sweet white wine. It influences not only the wine’s taste, but also its sugar content. Climatic conditions, geology and vineyard topography are all factors that shape the wine’s profile.
The benefits of sweet white wine
Contrary to popular belief, sweet white wine has health benefits, provided it is consumed in moderation. It contains heart-healthy antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, its sugar content may make it easier to digest for some people.
Sweet white wine is a gustatory voyage of a thousand flavors. From vineyard to glass, it tells a story, the story of know-how handed down from generation to generation. It is the expression of a terroir, the manifestation of a climate, the interpretation of a grape variety. To fully appreciate a sweet white wine, you need to take the time to discover, understand and taste it.
1. Which sweet white wine for an aperitif?
For an aperitif, you can choose from a variety of sweet (or sugared) white wines that have a higher level of residual sugar. Here are a few suggestions:
Gewurztraminer: Originating from Alsace in France, this wine is often sweet with notes of lychee, rose and spice.
Sauternes: This is a very sweet French wine from the Bordeaux region, known for its complex flavors of stone fruit, apricot and honey.
Moscato d’Asti: This is an Italian sparkling wine, often sweet with peach and apricot aromas. It is light in alcohol, which can be perfect for an aperitif.
Riesling: While some Rieslings can be dry, others can be very sweet. Rieslings from Germany’s Moselle Valley are particularly renowned for their sweetness.
Ice wine: This wine is made from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine. The result is a very smooth, rich wine. Canadian and German ice wines are particularly renowned.
Each wine has a unique balance of sweetness, acidity and flavor, so feel free to try a few to see what you like best!
2. How can you tell if a white wine is sweet?
It can be difficult to tell if a white wine is sweet just by looking at the bottle, but here are a few tips that may help:
Look at the label: Sweet wines are often referred to as “doux”, “sweet”, “demi-sec”, “semi-dulce”, “spätlese”, “auslese”, or “beerenauslese” on the label. However, not all wine producers use these terms consistently.
Alcohol content: In general, a wine with a low alcohol percentage (less than 10%) is likely to be sweeter. This is because, during fermentation, sugar is transformed into alcohol. So, a low alcohol percentage may indicate that not all the sugar has been transformed and that the wine is sweeter.
Grape type: Certain grape types are frequently used to make sweeter wines. For example, wines made from Muscat or Gewürztraminer grapes are generally sweeter.
Region: Certain regions are known for their sweeter wines. For example, Sauternes wines in France or Moselle wines in Germany are often sweet.
Taste it: Ultimately, the best way to tell if a wine is sweet is to taste it. If you can’t taste the wine before you buy it, ask a wine specialist at your local wine store for advice.