How do you find sugar content of wines

A reader asks is there a table to show the sugar content of wines?

Darby Says
As grapes ripen the vine manufactures sugar and stores it in the berries. Most (or nearly all) of the sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation.

The sugar (mostly in the form of glucose and fructose) that remains after fermentation is referred to as residual sugar.

Wines can also be sweetened by adding unfermented grape juice.

Whether a wine is perceived as sweet or dry depends on many factors as well as the sugar content. These are acid content, tannins, body and the temperature at which the wine is served.

From a consumers point of view there is often no way of telling from the label if a wine is dry or sweet. Clues that you can get that a wine is sweet are when the name or back notes say "late picked" or "late harvest." There is no recognised standard although some Riesling producers are using a system of graphic images.

Delong's wine grape varietal table sets out varieties according to the acidity and body of typical wines made from the varieties. These characteristics are heavily dependent on the terroir and especially the winemaking practices.

It would be impossible to make a similar table for sugar content of wines according to variety. For example Semillon makes sweet whites (eg Sauternes) in Bordeaux but dry whites in the Hunter.

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