Dessert wine

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Grapes for ice wine
A Caluso Passito from Piedmont
Amontillado sherry in a typical Catavino glass

Dessert wine or sweet wine is a collective term that describes full-bodied wines with a strong sweetness. Traditionally, in some countries and wine regions such wines are often served at the end of a meal with dessert or cheese . The terms "dessert wine" and "sweet wine" are often used colloquially synonymously , but are not defined in either European or German wine law. Dessert wines are both alcohol- enriched ("fortified") wines ( liqueur wines ) and wines whose strong sweetness is formed by concentrating the must sugar naturally contained in the grapes . The presence of strong residual sweetness is characteristic of all dessert wines . This arises from the fact that either the wine yeast dies due to the high alcohol or must sugar content or the fermentation is stopped by the winemaker before all existing sugar has fermented into alcohol.

Basic processes and manufacturing methods

Two basic processes are used to produce dessert wines, which in turn can be varied in many ways. This results in different, often regionally specific production methods with different styles and degrees of sweetness:

Concentration of the sugar present in the grapes

Liqueur wine (fortified sweet wine)

The fermentation of the very sugar-rich must is artificially stopped by adding 96% alcohol or thickened, fortified must. This kills the yeast and prevents further conversion of sugar into alcohol.


Well-known products traded as dessert wines or sweet wines are labeled with different names.

Wines through natural concentration: Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein.
Wines through natural concentration: Ausbruch, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein, Strohwein
Wines by natural concentration: Vin Santo and Recioto such as ( Recioto di Gambellara , Recioto di Soave and Recioto della Valpolicella ).
Wine, by sprinkling: Marsala .
Wine through natural concentration: Tokaj .
Wines through natural concentration:
Alsace: Vendanges tardives or Sélection des grains nobles (comes close to the German design of a Beerenauslese);
Bordeaux: Sauternes and Barsac .
Jura : Vin de Paille.
Jurançon : Vendanges tardives.

Liqueur wines (fortified sweet wines) are declared as Vin Doux Naturel under wine law , examples are: Rivesaltes, Banyuls, Maury , Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Muscat de Frontignan or Muscat de Rivesaltes .

Wine by sprinkling, example: sherry . Partial split: Málaga .
Wines by spraying: Port wine, Madeira, Moscatel de Setubal, Moscatel de Duoro

Web links

Wiktionary: Dessert wine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Sweet wine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


Individual evidence

  1. Jancis Robinson: The Oxford Wine Lexicon. Hallwag Verlag, Munich 2003, p. 739 f.