Where's Your Sweet Spot?

Sweet? Dry? Off dry? The answer is on the tip of your tongue.

In winespeak, if a wine is not sweet, it is dry. Here’s why.

Sweetness in wine is measured by its residual sugar [RS], which is left over in the winemaking process. During fermentation, yeasts eat the sugar in the grapes, creating alcohol. If the process halts before the yeast stops its feast, then not all of the natural grape sugar is transformed, and the residual sugar sweetens the wine. There are lots of reasons: winemakers monkey with RS levels but so can time and temperature. As sugar ages,

Consider: most dessert wines are 20 grams/liter RS or higher. But others you’d not label dessert wines also have residual sugar. For instance, Menage a Trois, the popular blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet, has just over 8 g/l RS. (To put this in perspective, Coca-Cola clocks in at over 100 g/l RS.)  

To tell if your wine is sweet, concentrate on the tip of your tongue; that’s the only place in your mouth where you can evaluate (enjoy) sweetness.  

Training Tip:  Take some sugar and place it on the back of your tongue.  You’ll experience texture, but not sweetness. Now dip into the sugar with the tip of your tongue. POW! You’ve hit the sweet spot.

Every time you taste a wine, consider how much sugar you sense on the very tip of your tongue. It can be a great clue when playing WineGame.