A dessert wine is considered to be any sweet wine drunk with a meal, as opposed to the white fortified wines drunk before the meal, and the red fortified wines drunk after it. Thus, most fortified wines are compared as distinct from dessert wines.
In the United States, oppositely, a dessert wine is legally defined as any wine over 14% alcohol by volume, which includes all fortified wines. This dates back to a time when the US wine industry only made dessert wines by fortification, but such a classification is outdated now that modern yeast and viticulture can produce dry wines over 15% without fortification.
German dessert wines can contain half that amount of alcohol.
Winemakers want to produce a dessert wine containing high levels of both sugar and alcohol, yet the alcohol is made from sugar. There are many ways to increase sugar levels in the final wine:
- Grow grapes so that they naturally have sugar to spare for both sweetness and alcohol.
- Add alcohol before all the sugar is fermented, this is called fortification, or 'mutage'.
- Add sugar.
- Remove water to concentrate the sugar.
Honey was added to wine in early Roman times Continue reading
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