Vin de Liqueur

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

vin de liqueur, strong, sweet drink made by adding neutral grape spirit or eau de vie to grape must, so-called mutage, either before or during fermentation. The resulting liquids have an alcoholic strength of 16–22% but no secondary products of fermentation such as glycerol or succinic acid. Confusingly, the term is also used by the eu to refer to all fortified wines. See liqueur wine.

The principal members of this special category of French specialities, known as mistelles (see mistela) if the fortification takes place before fermentation has started, are the pineau des charentes of Cognac country, its Armagnac counterpart floc de gascogne, macvin du jura, made from local marc added to grape juice and tasting strongly of the former, and clairette du languedoc. Most vins de liqueur are pale gold, but soft, fruity rosé versions of both Pineau and Floc can be found in the regions of production. Vin de liqueur differs from vin doux naturel in that the alcohol is generally added earlier and the resulting drinks therefore tend to be, and taste, more spirit dominated. Some Muscat de frontignan may also qualify. Many wine regions have their own versions of this easy-to-make strong, sweet aperitif: Champagne has its Ratafia, while the Languedoc has Cartagène. Where there are no regulations governing their production, they are sometimes made further along the scale towards vins doux naturels. Like vins doux naturels, these sweet wines can be enhanced by serving them cool, and the wine in an opened bottle should retain its appeal for well over a week.