Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

sweetness, one of the primary tastes involved in tasting and a fundamental component of wine. It varies considerably and is sensed by taste buds principally on the tongue. Wines taste sweet mainly because of the amount of residual sugar they contain (although the impact of this on the palate is greatly influenced by factors such as the levels of acidity, tannins, and carbon dioxide in the wine as well as by the serving temperature). ethanol, or alcohol, can also taste sweet, as can glycerol and a high level of pectins. Any wine with less than 2 g/l residual sugar is considered bone dry, but a dry wine with residual sugar of less than 2 g/l that is relatively high in alcohol, such as many a Chardonnay for example, can taste quite sweet. A sweet vouvray, on the other hand, made in a cool region from the naturally acidic grape variety chenin blanc, may contain well over 30 g/l residual sugar, but in youth can taste dry.