Dessert wines, also known as Vin Liquoreux, are very sweet white wines due to its high sugar level content. To create a “Vin Liquoreux”, juice from the grapes must contain more than 45 grams of sugar per litre.
France is one of the biggest producers of “Vins Liquoreux”, with more than 8,000 acres across 6 different regions. One of the most famous region to produce “Vins Liquoreux” is Bordeaux, from the Sauternes appellation – located in the Sauternais region.
There are different ways to produce grapes with a high sugar content:
1. Delaying the harvest.
The harvesting process usually takes place from August to September. However, to ensure that grapes have a higher sugar content, winemakers intentionally delay grape picking until October so that the fruits become dryer.
2. Dehydrate the fruit after the harvest.
Dehydration is a process commonly used by winemakers to increase the sugar content of the grapes from their harvest. It involves leaving the grapes under the sun to dry.
3. The Pourriture Noble method.
This method uses Botrytis Cinerea, a bacteria from a fungus. The spores of the fungus are sprayed over the grapes bacteria perforates into the grapes’ skin, allowing water in the grape to evaporate during dry conditions. Thereby, it raises the sugar concentration in the remaining juice.
The higher the quantity of sugar, the sweeter the wine will be. Usually, white grapes are used in this process and it gives the wine a golden to yellow colour.
Sugar content will also affect the alcohol percentage. Due to the level of sugar present in the grape, the percentage of alcohol can be as high as 17% after fermentation. These wines can be aged for more than 10 years and the ideal temperature for consumption should be below 10-degree Celsius.
Curious about the actual taste of a Sauternes? Check out the Sauternes Grand Cru Classe, Clos Haut Peyraguey, 1999 on our store.
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