How Many Carbs Are In Wine?

How Many Carbs Are In Wine?

Anytime you make dinner, you will want everything to be as perfect as it can be.  All the dishes need to be laid out in the correct manner, and you want to have the silverware on the correct side of the plate (for the record, the fork goes on the left side).  You have cooked everything to just the right temperature, and have presented it all at just the right time to where it is not too hot or too cold.  You have even figured out the right wine to pair with your dinner.  However, even though you cooked a dinner which is free from carbs, you wonder to yourself if the bottle of wine you purchased has a high amount of carbs in it.

You think to yourself, “just how many carbs are there in a glass of wine?”  Is there a significant difference between the amount of carbs in red wine as opposed to white wine?

When analyzing the amount of carbs within a typical glass of wine, it may not be nearly as many as you might have been led to believe.  Within each ounce of wine, there is less than 1 gram of carbs within that ounce.  In a typical glass of wine, where the standard is five ounces, you will have a total of four carbs within that glass of wine.

This amount of carbs does not vary on color; whether you have a white wine or a red wine, the number of carbs is the same.  All of the carbohydrates within an ounce of wine are derived from any residual sugar which is left over from the fermentation process.  Although a majority of the sugar burns off during this process, there are small traces of sugar left over, especially in the sweeter wines.  However, the amount is quite nominal, as the four grams within a five ounce glass of wine is only 1% of the recommended amount of carbs you should intake on a daily basis.

The amount of carbs will be a little bit higher in your dessert wines (like Port, Sherry or some Moscato wines), which are intended to be sweeter to help pair them properly with your dessert.

The sweetness within these wines consists of a little bit of a higher sugar content, which is added after the fermentation process to create the sweeter taste.  However, even with this being the case, the amount of carbohydrates is still minimal, and should not throw off your daily amount of carbs you will have in any given day.

Overall, the amount of carbs within a typical glass of wine is quite small.  Unless you, your friends or anyone within your family are on a zero carb diet, then your ability to enjoy a glass of wine should not be altered one way or another based upon the amount of carbs within a glass of wine.

What Is Prosecco Wine

What Is Prosecco Wine

Wine has been part of the cultures of the world over the last few centuries.  There have been certain wines which have become popular due to who an elected representative, or a dictator or king comes into power.  These leaders have a large influence on the type of wine or champagne is in vogue while they are in power.  Due to this, there are some types of wine or champagne which used to be popular, and then fell out of favor, and are now making a comeback within the wine community.  One type of wine that fits within this spectrum is the Prosecco.

Prosecco started being made back in the 1500’s, more than likely from the grapes which came from the town of Prosecco found in Italy.  It came into favor very quickly, because it sparkles like champagne, yet is very inexpensive compared to the normal price you would find with champagne.  What set Prosecco apart from the others wines within the marketplace around the early 1600’s is the way that it was made; it is made from grapes which are known to be sweet, but the wine actually ends up being a dry wine.  This is due to the type of fermentation process which the wine goes thru as it is made and bottled.

Due to all of these factors, most people tend to think of a Prosecco as Champagne, when in fact it is actually a dry wine.  Mostly found within the provinces of Italy, over the last 20 years, this dry wine has really started finding a market across of all Europe, and around the world.  This dry wine is a great substitute for Champagne, and because it can be purchased for a fraction of the cost, but still give you the great taste that Champagne would, it is seen as an excellent and affordable alternative.

There are some similarities and differences between Prosecco and Champagne which should be noted.  Both are served Chilled, and mostly as either a drink to go with your appetizers or with dessert.  They are both typically served by themselves, and are not used to make mixed drinks.  Prosecco has a typical alcohol content of between 11%-13%.

A couple of the main differences include the fact that Prosecco has a couple of main ingredients which really are pronounced, whereas champagne is more well known for having multiple flavors present within each glass which is consumed.  In addition to this, most wines and champagnes are known for tasting better the longer they are on a shelf; Prosecco is not this kind of wine.  In fact, the longer that this wine sits on the shelf, the sooner it will actually become stale.  It is recommended that you drink a bottle of Prosecco within three years of it being produced; otherwise it will taste sour and musty.

Overall, Prosecco is a great wine to enjoy with your appetizers and desserts, and with the increase in popularity, there are bound to be even more varieties of Prosecco available within the near future.  Just remember, you need to drink the wine within a certain time from when it is produced, so you can enjoy this wine as it was intended to be tasted.

How Wine Geeks Talk To Their Friends

How Wine Geeks Talk To Their Friends

It’s a glorious weekend and you are out with your friends hanging out.  You and your friends debate for a while and decide on that new hot Italian restaurant that just opened up downtown – because one of your friends says they have the perfect, most mouthwatering pasta al nero di seppia.  Sounds all great and good – but what the heck is that, you ask?  You get the first inkling that he may be just one of those guys – a self-styled foodie.  Or he may just like a good squid ink pasta. Yes, squid ink.

But you go along with it (for now) and what’s prepared to come: a barrage of wine terms once you, your friends, behold the self-styled foodie enthusiastically asking for the wine menu.

The server offers to pass around another wine menu – and for a moment a pause.  You gauge the reaction of your buddy and his girlfriend sitting across the table.  Let’s face it, you may be shooting a somewhat despondent plea from your eyes: “Who invited this guy?  I thought we were gonna have just a nice lunch – but wine?  Wine?!  I’d rather just have an IPA or try that brightly orange craft cocktail!”

Or perhaps your buddy’s girlfriend just thinks you are staring at her.

Looking at the end of the table, you can’t help but be captivated by the foodie, gleefully scanning the wine list.  The server stands, patiently, quietly – almost supernaturally patient because you look around, and the restaurant is packed.  And she might just have ten other tables to water, with an apple juice pending for a kid.  But no matter.  Silence descends on the table, silence intermingled with curiosity as the foodie reads of the menu as if he were enjoying The Lord of the Rings.

“How is your toscana?” he finally asks.

Ok, you think, this guy is not just a foodie, he’s a bone fide Wine Geek.

The server appears to be gathering her thoughts.  That apple juice for that kid across the way couldn’t be further from her mind.

“It is, well, umm,” she stalls.  “It’s a popular style of Italian wine.”

“Cool,” the Wine Geek says.  “Do you know if it is more sangiovese or merlot?  I don’t want anything as beefy as a nebbiolo.”

You and your friends shoot glances at each other.  You may be vacillating somewhere between curious and mildly annoyed at the Wine Geek’s questions.  Wine names you have never head of – wine terms that are as alien to you as the Cambodian word for “food”.

“Ok,” she says, “let me go ahead and get our sommelier.  She’d love to tell you a little bit more about the Tuscan wine you are asking about.”

Wine Geek looks around at the table, and smiles wryly – maybe even half-apologetically.  Meanwhile you all talk about which pastas sound great.  The pasta primavera, or how about the linguine with vodka sauce.

And yet this new wine related term – sommelier hangs vaguely in the back of your mind.  Finally, the sommelier comes back followed by your server.

You notice that even before talking about the wine she asks what the table has in mind for lunch?  Ok, so now you are a little intrigued.

Wine Geek speaks up, and asks about the wine again.

“Yes, great question,” the sommelier asks.  “That wine is personally one of my favorites.  It’s medium bodied, has some olive on the nose, and lively red fruits on the palate.”

This is the real deal!  All of a sudden you feel a little more excited than cynical about all these questions and wine terms new to you.  In fact, you muster the courage without the liquid courage.  Alright, enough talk, lets taste this wine, I am curious.

Wine Geek looks pleased.  The enthusiasm just may be infectious.

The sommelier pops open the Italian wine, and offers a pour around the table.  You steel a glance across the way, and Wine Geek is burying his nose in his wine glass.

“Ah, smell the mediterranean olive, do you get that?”

Yes, by God, you do.

Here, try some of this.  He takes some bread sitting at the center of the table, dips it in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar and offers some for the table.

“Take and eat,” he pontificates.

The table munches silently.  Even the sommelier seems amused.


After a sip of the toscana those notes – those flavors of mediterranean olive, and yes -even some fruit notes pronounce themselves on your palate.

“I think I am beginning to see what you’re talking about,” your buddy’s girlfriend chimes in.

“Yes, this is a nice wine.  I think it will pair well with the calamari we’ll have for the table,” the Wine Geek says.

The sommelier leaves and a new opinion forms in your mind, of the Wine Geek, his wine terms your formerly thought stuffy and pretentious.  And the wine seems to have a relationship with the food – they go hand-in-hand.  You begin to get the idea, and start thinking about another wine term he threw around the table – red fruits – while tasting the wine.

Cherry?  He nods.  Plum?  That very well could be.  He let’s you in on a secret – it’s all a little subjective.

And now, for the main entrees.  You’ve trusted Wine Geek thus far for the wine.  And you take his word on that nero di something-or-other pasta, contentedly drinking Tuscan wine, forgetting you’re about to eat pasta prepared with squid and its own ink.

How Many Calories Are There In A Glass Of Red Wine?

How Many Calories Are There In A Glass Of Red Wine?

Have you started enjoying the habit of having a glass of red wine with your dinner each night?  There might not be a better drink to help accentuate the flavors of your dinner than having a correctly paired glass of red wine.  Clearly, there is a perfect red wine flavor for any occasion.  With this in mind, if you have started this habit, or are thinking about starting to have more red wine with your dinner, you might be wondering how that will affect your waistline.

Just how many calories in a glass of red wine are there?

Although it is hard to pinpoint the exact number of calories, as it is fully based upon how many ounces you have within each glass, along with the type of red wine and the alcohol content you are drinking, we can help you generalize the number of calories in red wine.  We’ll give you this information, along with helping you determine how many calories are within the glass of wine you are enjoying each night.

On average, there are 25 calories in each ounce of red wine.  This is a very broad and open statement, but it is the standard amount of calories you can expect within any bottle of wine.  Knowing this is the standard amount, you can then determine if the wine you drink has more or less.

A common misconception among wine drinkers is that the amount of calories within any glass of red wine is determined by how much sugar is in the wine.  The amount of sugar is not the determining factor, however, as most of the sugar within wine is actually converted into alcohol during the fermentation process.  The higher the alcohol level is, the more calories there are within those wines; more sugar had to be used to increase the amount of alcohol within that wine.   It is a subtle difference, but an important difference to make, as most red wine does not have extra sugar added into it after it is made.  The only wines which are high in actual sugar content are dessert or very sweet wines.

When it comes to counting red wine calories, taking into consider the alcohol level, as well as how many ounces you pour into a glass are very important factors.  The higher the alcohol level and the more ounces in each glass, the more calories there will be within that particular glass of wine.  The reverse of this is also true – the lower the alcohol level and the less number of ounces within the glass of wine, the lower the amount of calories will be within that glass of wine.

So, what is the determination?  This all comes down to you, and how many calories you are wanting to intake on a given day.  Towards the end of the day, it usually comes down to having to choose between eating a dessert or enjoying a glass of red wine.  When making the comparison of how many calories in a glass of red wine versus how many calories are in a dessert, the glass of red wine will almost always have fewer calories, meaning you can enjoy the glass of wine and save the dessert for another time.

Overall, drinking red wine will not add to your waistline as long as it is done in moderation and you plan for it.  You can fully control how many calories are in each glass of red wine based upon the alcohol content within the bottle you purchase and the number of ounces within each glass you pour.  Knowing this, you should not be worried about enjoying a perfectly paired glass of red wine with the wonderful dinner you’ll have each night.

How Many Ounces In A Bottle Of Wine?

How Many Ounces In A Bottle Of Wine?

As you are planning a party, you might find yourself standing in front of a rack of wine glasses, attempting to figure out which flavor of wine you want to purchase for your guests.  However, this might not be the only question you are asking yourself; you might be asking how many different bottles of wine will you need to satisfy yourself and all your friends for the night’s festivities?

To figure this out, you will need to be able to answer a couple of questions, to ensure your party does not run out of wine:

How many ounces in a bottle of wine?

How many glasses in a bottle of wine?

Within a typical size of a bottle of wine, there are 750 ML.  Although this is the standard unit of measurement among wine connoisseurs, most of us do not have an easy conversion table to know how many ounces are in 750ML.  When you convert ML into ounces, there are approximately 25.4 ounces of wine within each bottle.

Now that we know how many ounces are in a bottle of wine, we should easily be able to tell how many glasses are in a bottle of wine, right?  Unfortunately, it is not that simple.  There are people who pour wine very gingerly, and others who are heavy handed with their wine pours.  Even restaurants have a difference in what they believe a glass of wine should hold.

Overall, the standard amount of wine within a glass is between five and six ounces.  This is a significant difference, however, as that one ounce is the difference between having five glasses out of one bottle, and only having four glasses poured out of one bottle.  When you are determining the number of bottles you will need for a party, you need to think thru this process, and ensure you have enough wine on hand to cover the six ounce pourers.  Although you may have a little wine left over at the party, it is better to error on the high side, than the low side and run out before the party ends.  Because once the wine ends, typically that signals the unofficial end to the party.

Now that you have determined the correct number of ounces in a bottle of wine, and how many glasses of wine per bottle there are within each bottle, you should be able to determine the right number of bottles of wine for any party.  For example, if you have nine people at the party total (including yourself), and you expect each person to drink three glasses of wine, you will need to ensure you have enough for 27 glasses.  When you take this number and divide by four (since you are presuming each person will drink six ounces per glass), you come up with a number that is just under seven.  Therefore, you should buy at least seven bottles of wine.  We would recommend you purchase eight, to ensure you have some extra just in case someone likes to have more than six ounces within each pour.

Knowing there are just over 25 ounces of wine in a bottle, and that this translates into four glasses per bottle of wine, you are now fully prepared for any party.  The goal of each party is to ensure everyone has a great time, and there is nothing which can make this easier than ensuring you have enough wine for the entire night.

The Basics Of Malbec Wine

The Basics Of Malbec Wine

When it comes to finding the perfect red wine to go with your dinner, it might become an overwhelming process.  It is believed there are hundreds of different varieties of red wines available within the marketplace, and wines which have the same name are made differently at each winery.  This makes it nearly impossible to know everything there is to know about wines which are not found among the most common types of red wines.  That is why within this article we’re going to go into depth with one particular red wine you should know more about, which is the Malbec Wine.

What is Malbec Wine?

Malbec wines have a dark and smoky finish, and are comparable to the more well-known Cabernet Sauvignon red wine.  However, this wine is typically more inexpensive than the Cabernet, which makes it a more attractive option for when you don’t have a lot of discretionary income to spend on wine.

The main grape types within Malbec consist of Black Cherry along with some combination of plum, raspberry, blueberry, pomegranate and blackberry.  These ingredients help gives this wine its dark red color, and is considered one of the darkest colored wines available.  However, due to these ingredients, it is typically known for having one of the highest contents of acid as well, which help preserve the wine if it is on the shelf for a while, but can give a little bit more of a bitter taste as well.

Other aromas you might find within this wine are Black Pepper, Tobacco, Mocha and Cocoa, to name a few.  Most Malbec within the world is made in Argentina, as they have close to 3/4ths of the land in the world which are dedicated towards Malbec.

How does Malbec Wine Taste?

There are a few distinguishing tells of the Malbec wine.

  • As described before, the wine will have a darker red, or even a purplish hue to it, which makes it very distinguishable from other red wines.
  • Because of the different ingredients and types of grapes, there is a more acidic taste to the wine.
  • However, there is not nearly as much Oak taste nodes as you might expect from wine with the list of ingredients such as this.  Malbec wine is normally only aged for nine months or less, which does not allow the oak flavor to permeate within the wine.
  • There are some wineries which prefer to have a more oak flavor within this wine, so they will store their Malbec barrels for up to two years.  When this occurs, though, the bottle of wine will typically be double the price than what you will normally see for a standard bottle of Malbec


With Malbec Wine, it typically pairs best with food that typically has more eclectic tastes, like certain flavors of cheese and mushrooms, as well as thinner meat.  If you are going to serve heavy foods, this more than likely is not the right wine for you; however, the lighter and more diverse the food selection, the greater the probability that Malbec wine will go very nicely with your meal.  We hope you give a bottle of Malbec a chance soon, and when you do, please let us know what you paired it with, and how it tasted!

White And Red Sweet Wine Types For Your Consideration

White And Red Sweet Wine Types For Your Consideration

Which Wines are really Sweet Wines?

Within the wine world, most wines are either classified as dry wines or sweet wines.  Although this can help distinguish which wines you might like better, these terms are too broad to give you a true sense of which wines you might enjoy the most.  There are many different levels of sweetness within wines, no matter if they are red or white.

When thinking through a mental list of sweet wines, most people tend to start with white wines.  This is due to the composition of white grapes compared to red grapes; white grapes tend to naturally be sweeter, which then translates into making a sweet white wine.  A red or darker grape will tend to be bitter, which makes red wines, on average, drier in comparison.

Some of the most common Sweet White wines include:

Ice Wine


Moscato (read about Moscato here)


However, there are wines which are between the Riesling and a dry wine, like Pinot Grigio, which could be considered to be a sweet wine.  These wines include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.  More times than not, our minds are conditioned to see the name of the wine, and immediately classify it as a dry wine.  When this happens, all of our senses are focused more upon finding the qualities which makes these wines a dry wine, rather than looking for any scent of a sweet wine.

This is truly enhanced because of our nose.  Any time someone tries out a new wine, they invariably swish the wine around the glass a couple of times.  Once they do this, then they bring the glass up so their nose can smell the wine.  This first sense is what gives us our first impression of what the wine is, and our mind tends to automatically associate a particular wine with that smell.  It is very hard for our mind to streamline itself and to pick out the various different flavors and ingredients within a particular glass of wine.

This is mostly because we don’t like our taste buds to be surprised.  We want our body to be prepared for what we are about ready to eat and drink, and this is especially true with wine.  Most people have drunk enough wine to know what they like, and what they dislike, and do not like to go outside of their box very often.  This is an unfortunate mistake people make, because there is a wide breadth of wines available are excellent, whether you have a tongue which prefers sweet or dry wines.

Even though red wines are considered drier, this same principle applies to all red wines.  When people see red wines, they tend to automatically think it will be drier than what it may actually be, especially if they sense even a hint of acidity within the wine.  However, there are many sweet red wines.

These include:

Ice Wine




Cabernet Sauvignon


There are some very dry red wines, which include Bordeaux and Chianti, but there are some wines which are in between these two extremes.  These varieties of wines include Burgundy, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese, to name a few.

In conclusion, there are many wines which can be made dry, but those same types of wines can also be sweeter than you were expecting.  When you want to enjoy a sweet wine, you do not need to limit yourself to a White Ice Wine; there are plenty of great red and white wine options to choose from.  You just need to train your senses to look deeper, and not go by just the first impression they have.

How Much Alcohol Is In A Glass Of Wine?

How Much Alcohol Is In A Glass Of Wine?

When it comes to determining the amount of alcohol within any drink, some measurements are easier to make compared to others.  For example, when you are dealing with Vodka, you can easily tell how much alcohol is in it by taking the proof number and dividing it by two; if it shows on the label it is 80 proof, then the amount of alcohol within that bottle is 40%.

When it comes to wine, making this assessment is just as easy, but sometimes harder to see, as the writing is typically very small to read along any label.  The average alcohol content of wine within each bottle is between 11.5% and 13.5%, but there are wines within the marketplace where the alcohol percentage in wine can range anywhere from 5% up to 23.5%.

Within this article, we’ll show how the standard way winemakers determine the amount of alcohol within wine, as well as what percentage of alcohol consumers can expect from certain lines of wine.

How to determine Alcohol content of Wine as a Winemaker

If you are fortunate enough to be someone who makes wine as a living, or are thinking about entering into this arena, one of the most important aspects for when you are ready to sell the wine is to know how much alcohol is within the bottle.  Too much alcohol, and the wine is going to come across as too strong and not smooth; too little alcohol, and it’ll be very flat to drink.  Figuring this out after the wine has been made is very detrimental, as you cannot do anything at this point to alter the amount of alcohol within the bottle of wine.

To alter the alcohol content within each batch, it needs to changed during the fermentation portion of the wine making process.  The most common tool used to figure out the amount of alcohol present during the process is called a Wine Hydrometer.  This tool is a cylinder tool, which floats within your liquid batch and is measuring the amount of sugar within the batch.  If the Hydrometer floats very high in the batch, then there is a lot of sugar within the batch; likewise, if it drops more towards the bottom, it means there is not much sugar within the batch.

Sugar is a key element concerning the alcohol content, as sugar is what turns the yeast into alcohol during the fermentation process.  This is the key variable in influencing the amount of alcohol within any batch you produce.  You need to take a reading before the fermentation process begins, and then a second one when the fermentation process is complete.  The first reading will give you a percentage (standard is around 10%-12%), and then the second reading will give you a variance, which you will add to the first amount to give you the expected amount of alcohol within that batch.  Once you have this reading, you can put this reading on the label of the bottle of wine so the consumer knows what to expect.

How to determine Alcohol content of Wine as a Consumer

As a consumer, you do not need to have a fancy tool to determine the alcohol content, as the alcohol content is written right on the label.  However, there is no standard place on the label where winemakers have to put this information.  Some put it on the front label, whereas others put it on a back label.  Sometimes it is along the bottom in a horizontal position, other times it is along the side in a vertical position.  What you can be assured of is that the percentage is on the label somewhere, you just need to hunt for it and find it.

However, different kinds of wines typically have a certain amount of alcohol within them, so you can make a generalization based upon the type of wine you drink without having to look for the alcohol percentage.  Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more popular wines within those categories:


Less than 10%

German Riesling

Alsace Blanc


Between 10% and 11.5%

Pinot Grigio



Between 11.5% and 13.5%

American Riesling

Sauvignon Blanc


Between 13.5% and 15%

Pinot Noir



Over 15%




Due to the large assortment available within the marketplace, you are sure to find the right wine for you and your taste buds.  And winemakers will continue to tinker with their own formulas to find just the right amount of alcohol to put within each bottle for your tasting enjoyment.  And hopefully you can use this information to quickly determine the right amount of alcohol level you enjoy within your wine, and find some other wines within that range to enjoy.

How To Drink Wine In 4 Easy Steps

How To Drink Wine In 4 Easy Steps

We’ve seen many people ask “Is there a right way or a wrong way to drink and serve wine?”

When it comes to drinking wine, many people would consider there is no wrong way to drink it.  However, there are ways which can help enhance your drinking experience, so that it is as rich and satisfying as it is meant to be.

Here are a few different concepts to consider when it comes to drinking and serving wine.

Why Smell The Wine Cork?

Often times, you will see people who just open a bottle of wine offer up the cork to be smelled by their guests.  Although this may look cool and be part of some traditions, there is no actual value in smelling the cork.  The cork will not give you a sense of how the wine you are about to partake in will taste; it is not like a candle, where you smell the candle before it is lit to see how it will smell.  The only and best way to know how a wine will taste is to actually take a sip of it from a glass.

Which Glass Type Is Best For Each Wine?

If you are looking at your wine collection, and noticing you only have one type of glass, then you are actually doing yourself a dis-service.  There are traditional goblets, which are best for the natural wines.  However, if you are serving up champagne or a dessert wine, then having a flute type of wine glass is the best choice.  The flute will allow you to not swirl the wine, which means the flavors and the bubbles will stay intact.  In addition to this, the design of the glass means the bubbles will stay active longer, giving you a chance to experience the full flavors of the sparkling wine or champagne during the necessary time you have allotted to enjoy this type of wine with any dessert or any after-party activities.

Can You Serve Wine At Room Temperature?

The simple answer to this question is yes; you can serve and drink wine at room temperature.  However, there are certain temperatures which are best for each kind of wine.  For example a red wine is best enjoyed when it is between the temperatures of 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  For White wine, it is recommended to be served between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  For Sparkling and Dessert wines, they are best when they are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Although you can drink wines at different temperatures, and if you happen to drink a red wine which is 55 or 75 degrees, it will not fully deter from the taste; you just won’t enjoy it at its maximum potential.

Where You Hold The Glass Of Wine Has No Effect On The Wine, Right?

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to wine is where to hold the glass (with the biggest misconception with wine is swirling the wine – a couple times is fine, but if you swirl it more than 2-3 times, then you are overdoing it).

With any goblet or flute, you should hold it by the stem as much as possible.  Even if you only have a couple of fingers on the glass where there is wine present, it will alter the temperature of the wine and will warm it up sooner.  The longer you can keep the wine at a cooler temperature, the longer it will hold its flavor.

In conclusion, wine can be enjoyed in a variety of facets and temperatures.  There are a few different things you can do to help enhance your wine tasting and serving experience.  The best thing to do is to experiment with a few different variables, so you can be assured you will find the best combination of factors to help you enjoy each glass of wine to its fullest.

What makes a Great Dessert Wine?

What makes a Great Dessert Wine?

Dessert wine can be one of the most hedonistic, amazing, and gloriously lip smacking wines you will ever taste in your life. It can also taste like drinking candy, leaving your mouth in a sticky mess, with you wanting nothing more than a sip of water to wash the sensation away and to move on to something more palatable. The difference between the two is what makes a great dessert wine great, and what makes the bad dessert wine fit only for catching flies.

The first, and most important note when it comes to dessert wine, is that it is not meant to be drunk in the same quantity as the red you had with your steak. Dessert wine is generally served in 2-3 ounce pours, about half of what you would get if you asked for a glass of red wine in a restaurant. No matter how good the dessert wine, the amount of residual sugar left in it can make for a very tired palate after any more than that. So when serving it to guests, try to find smaller tasting glasses to pour dessert wine into, rather than using a standard white or red wine glass.

A second very important note on dessert wine is when it comes to pairing it with food. Most dessert wines can be paired with, not surprisingly, dessert! However, the golden rule when pairing is this: never pair a dessert wine with a dessert that is sweeter than the wine. If you pair a sweet wine with a sweeter dessert, the wine will almost always fall flat, feel flabby, too acidic, not fruity enough, etc. There are some exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking it is a good rule to live by.

Now, onto the 3 characteristics that make a great dessert wine:

1. Acidity: Acidity is the number one most important characteristic of a great dessert wine. The best dessert wines have excellent (meaning high) acidity, which helps to counter and cut through that sweetness and make them palatable without being too overly sugary. Almost every great dessert wine is made from grapes that are screechingly acidic, to the point that non-dessert wines made from the same grapes can be downright undrinkable. Tokai, Eiswein/Ice Wine, Beerenauslese/Trockenbeerenauslese, and Sauternes are all famous dessert wines that also have famously high acidity. Highly acidic grapes also allow for a long hang time to build up sugars without losing too much acidity, which leads to my next characteristic…

2. Sweetness: For a great dessert wine, it needs to be sweet! Most of the grapes that are destined for dessert wine aren’t necessarily the sweetest in the world, and if given the opportunity the juice from these grapes would ferment into dry wine instead. However, the winemaker has a few different techniques to increase the sugar content of these grapes and the juice they make. Botrytized grapes have been attacked by a fungus, Botrytis Cinerea, nicknamed “Noble Rot”, that dehydrate the grapes and thereby increase the sugar content and intensity. Sauternes, Tokai, and some Trockenbeerenauslese wines are made in this way. Eiswein, or Ice Wine, is so called because the grapes are left on long after other grapes have been harvested, until the weather is cold enough to freeze the grapes themselves! This pulls water from the grape, again increasing its sugar content and flavor intensity. Another tactic winemakers employ to craft dessert wine is stopping fermentation part way through, thereby leading to lower alcohol contents and higher residual sugar levels. For some wines at high enough sugar levels, the yeast simply cannot ferment all the sugar in the wine, and therefore fermentation stops at just a few percent. For other wines, the winemaker chills the wine to a low enough point that the yeast all die, and then filters them out (to prevent them from starting fermentation again in the bottle), leading to a low alcohol sweet wine. And for Port and Madeira and other fortified sweet wines, the winemaker adds a neutral grape spirit part way through fermentation which kills the yeast in the wine (yeast cannot survive above 16% alcohol or so). All these techniques have one important affect: to make the wine sweet!

3. Ageability: Some may argue this point, but the 3rd characteristic of a great dessert wine is its ageability. Due to the high amount of both residual sugar and acidity in dessert wines, bacteria is a non-issue for the most part, as they cannot survive the extreme conditions found in the bottle. This leads to a wine with enormous aging potential, and dessert wines have been found in good drinking condition dating back well over 100 years. It is not uncommon to see Ports, Madeira’s, and Trockenbeerenauslese’s that were made 40, 50, or 60 years ago. This leads to incredible sensations of caramel, herbs, spices, nuts, Crème Brule, dried or candied fruit, and honey. While there is nothing wrong with a young dessert wine (and indeed some, such as Moscato d’Asti, are meant to be drunk young) an old dessert wine can offer sensational aromas and flavors that can be seldom found in other wines.

I can remember exactly where I was the first time I had Heidi Schrock’s Ausbruch “On The Wings Of Dawn”, a botrytized wine made on the shores of the Neusiedlersee from local grapes Welschriesling and Furmint. It quite literally felt for a second like I had been lifted onto the wings of an angel. That was my “holy shit” moment when it came to dessert wine, and I was hooked from that point on. Never before had I had a wine so intensely flavored, so electric in my mouth, making me want to go back again and again to taste it. By the end of the tasting, I’m sure I had tried it 5 times. That is the power of a great dessert wine: you will want to go back to it, over and over, for years and years, to just have a sip, just a taste, to feel that electricity in your mouth, that complex flavor running over your tongue, that silky mouthfeel. The experience can offer the same hedonistic, mind numbingly beautiful qualities that the best red and white wines in the world can offer, and you’ll get hooked on dessert wine too.