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The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Wine Sweetness Chart

Gather round, maties! We’re about to embark on an epic journey through the sugary waters of the wine world, guided by the wine sweetness chart. Get ready to pucker up and let your taste buds set sail!

What’s All This About a Wine Sweetness Scale?

Before we hoist the sails, we need to learn how to read our very own sweetness treasure map. It’s called the sweetness scale and it measures how much sugar is lurking in each wine.

The scale goes from bone-dry (not a single grain of sugar) all the way to super duper sweet (so much sugar your teeth might fall out!). The official pirate unit for measuring sweetness is grams of sugar per liter of wine, or g/L for short.

wine sweetness chart

Dry Dock: The Dry Wine Shores (0-10 g/L)

Let’s start our voyage at the dry docks, where the daring dry reds and whites call home. These vinos are the tough guys that don’t need any sugar to taste awesome:

Bone Dry Reds (0-1 g/L)

  • Tannat
  • Sagrantino
  • Brachetto
  • Chianti

Bone Dry Whites (0-1 g/L)

  • Muscadet
  • Assyrtiko
  • Melon de Bourgogne

Dry Reds (1-10 g/L)

  • Merlot
  • Malbec
  • Pinot Noir
  • Sangiovese

Dry Whites (1-10 g/L)

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Albarino
  • Chardonnay

These dry wines are like the cool kids who are just a tiny bit sweet, but still keep things classy.

The Sweet Spot: Off-Dry Delights (10-35 g/L)

Anchors aweigh! We’re sailing into sweeter territory with the off-dry wines. These vinos like to flirt with sweetness and keep you on your sugar-lovin’ toes.

Off-Dry Reds

  • Zinfandel
  • Grenache
  • Lambrusco

Off-Dry Whites

  • Riesling
  • Chenin Blanc

These cheeky wines are the life of the party, bringing some extra zing and sweetness to your glass. But watch out, they might sneak up on you with their sugary charms!

The Sugary Seas Ahead (35-220 g/L)

Abandon all hopes of dryness, shipmates! We’re crossing into sugary paradise, where rich, sweet and decadent wines rule the waters.

On the red side, we find dessert wine treasures like:

  • Port
  • Banyuls

These are like liquid candy that would make any sweet tooth go overboard with joy.

As for the whites, indulge in:

  • Gewurztraminer
  • Moscato
  • Sauternes
  • Ice Wine

They’re like having that fun, sweet-treat aunty come over to pour some sugary love into your glass.

The Dreaded Sugar Shoals (220+ g/L)

Dead ahead lie the sugar shoals – the sweetest of the sweet wines that only true sugar pirates dare brave!

On the red side, legends tell of uber-sweet:

  • Sweet Red Blends
  • Vin Santo Rosso

But it’s the white wines that are the real untamed beasts of high sugar:

  • Tokaji
  • Trockenbeerenauslese

With sweetness this intense, just one sip could put your dentist on a permanent sugar high! Tread cautiously through these shoals…if you dare!

Navigator Tips For Charting Your Sweet Course

Now you know all about the wines roaming the different sweetness seas. But how do you pick the perfect bottle for your sweet cravings? Here’s the compass rose for smooth sailing:

  • Listen to your taste buds – are you a die-hard dry wine lover or a sweet freak?
  • Try out different levels until you find that sugary sweet spot you love
  • Go ahead and mix it up – dry one night, sweet the next, your taste buds are the captain!

Pairing Wines With Food: The Secret Sweetness Weapon

Finding a tasty wine is great, but you know what’s even better? Pairing it with some grub! A sweet wine can make a good dish taste totally awesome.

Like if you’re chowing down on a crazy chocolate dessert, you don’t want a dry wine that’ll make you go thirsty. But a sweet red like Port or Banyuls? It’s like giving your taste buds a sweet little high-five!

Or imagine you’ve got some stinky cheese on your plate. Don’t even think about dry wine – it’ll taste like soap! But an off-dry white like Riesling? It’ll have your mouth doing the happy cheese dance.

The possibilities for sweet and savory bliss are endless, mates. Just gotta try different pairings and let your tongue decide what tastes best.

Sweet Sips of Knowledge

Now that you’re well-versed in navigating the wine sweetness seas, let’s dive deeper into some fascinating facts about sugar levels in vino:

🍷 The French coined the term “sec” (dry) on wine labels in the 19th century.

🍷 Riesling is the sweet wine darling of Germany and Alsace.

🍷 The sweetest wines in the world are Hungarian Tokaji Essencia with over 600 g/L sugar!

🍷 Ice wines get their intense sweetness from grapes naturally freezing on the vine.

🍷 Sweet red wines like Port were originally “fortified” with brandy to up the alcohol.

🍷 The ultimate dessert pairing? Sauternes with crème brûlée or foie gras.

🍷 Winemakers stop fermentation early by chilling, filtering, or adding brandy to retain sweetness.

🍷 Banyuls in France is one of the few naturally sweet red wines made from old vines.

🍷 Dried grape or “straw” wines like Recioto are deliciously sweet and unctuously textured.

🍷 Warm regions like Australia are noticing a rise in popularity of lush, sweet Shiraz.CopyRe

The Sweetness Plank: Walk It Or Jump?

Well shipmates, you made it through the sugary seas of wine sweetness! You’re practically a sipping pirate master now.

So go forth and sail those flavorful waters with confidence. Whether you love bone-dry or sickeningly sweet, there’s a wine treasure waiting to delight your taste buds.

And remember – don’t just settle for whatever your buddies are drinking. Get out there and explore the full sweetness scale! Your tongue will thank you.

Stay sweet, stay sugary, and may the sweet wine gods favor your goblets!


What is the sweetest type of wine?

The sweetest type of wine is typically a very sweet dessert wine, such as Tokaji or Ice Wine.

Do sweeter wines have more calories?

Yes, sweeter wines often have more calories because they contain more residual sugar.

How does aging affect wine sweetness?

Aging can affect the perception of sweetness in wine. Over time, the flavors can become more balanced, and the wine can taste less sweet as it develops more complex flavors.

Which is sweeter, red or white wine?

In general, white wines tend to be sweeter than red wines. Many popular dry reds have little to no residual sugar. However, there are sweet red dessert wines like Port that can be very sweet.

How to know if wine is sweet?

Look for words like “dry”, “off-dry”, “semi-sweet”, or “sweet” on the wine label. You can also check the tech sheet for the residual sugar level in g/L. Over 35 g/L is considered sweet.

How to select a sweet wine?

Think about your personal sweetness preferences first. If you like very sweet wines, look for dessert wines. If you prefer just a hint of sweetness, try off-dry wines like Riesling or Moscato.