Don’t Let a Transitory Wine Fool You
Though a sweet red wine is considered to be a transitory wine between those who are used to drinking white wines and want to start drinking the drier reds, it can still be an excellent wine to keep in your cellar, pantry, or closet. With flavorful depths that white wines just cannot match, but with the traditional sweetness of a white wine, a sweet red wine makes an excellent addition to pretty much any meal. Even if you consider it to be a transitory wine, don’t talk yourself out of having at least a bottle or two available.
How Can I Tell If a Red Wine Will Be a Sweet Red Wine?
Sugar is actually used in the fermentation process, which means the yeasts are actually converting sugars that are in the wine into alcohol. If you are looking for a natural, sweet red wine, then when you are browsing through the store, you will want to look for the bottles that have a lower alcohol content. These lower alcohol wines have less time in the fermentation process, which means they carry more of the natural sugars of the grape with them. If a red wine has a higher alcohol content to it, then it is going to have less sugars left in it generally and will be less sweet, or in wine terms, more dry.
Now sometimes this general rule can fool you thanks to the winemaker. Some winemakers will add rocks of sugar to the wine during the fermenting process. This will make the red wine have a higher alcoholic content while still keeping it as a sweet red wine. If you are unsure of the wine that you are buying, try to find out a little bit about how the wine itself was made before purchasing it. That way you’ll know if you are getting a sweet red wine or not.
Just Because a Sweet Red Wine Is Considered a Dessert Wine Doesn’t Mean You Have To Drink It with Dessert
Many people utilize a sweet red wine, whether it is sparkling or not, as a dessert wine. That’s because the sweet flavors of this kind of wine mix beautifully into the flavors of virtually any dessert. The most common of these is a port wine, and often times people will reduce a port wine to make a flavorful sauce for their dessert or a sweet sauce for a dinner that they are making.
The sweet red wine can, in fact, be utilized for a number of different applications beyond sauces and desserts. A sweet red wine goes very well with a strong and savory meal, such as with a curry or other almost overpowering spice. This kind of wine also goes well with rice dishes and can enhance the flavors of the meal for some individuals.
It should also be noted that in the United States, a red wine is classified as a dessert wine if it has between 14% to 24% alcohol content in it, which means that many non-dessert wines actually qualify under this very broad classification.
There Are Four Basic Ways To Make a Sweet Red Wine
There are four different methods that winemakers utilize in the making of a sweet red wine. Those methods are:
- Icing. This type of winemaking occurs when the winemaker allows the grapes to actually freeze on the vine before harvesting them.
- Late harvest. The longer grapes hang from the vine, the sweeter they become. If a winemaker wants to make a sweet wine, they will allow these grapes to stay on the vine until the last possible moment before winter sets in.
- Raisining. Raisins are dried grapes, and if one is raisining the vine, then they are drying out the grapes while they are still connected to the vine.
- Noble rot. When grapes are attacked by the noble rot, it eliminates the water from them while leaving the sugar content alone.
A sweet red wine falls under the same classification categories as white wines when it comes to their sugar content. Though red wines aren’t required to specifiy their actual sugar content, some will say sec or demi-sec so that you can tell which ones are sweeter than the others. The bottom of that scale is, of course, the classic brut which has very little residual sugar contained within it.
A sweet red wine really is one of the best things on planet Earth. Give one a try today and see for yourself what you’ve been missing without a good, sweet red wine in your life!