What is Residual Sugar in Wine?

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019
Wine Folly
What is Residual Sugar in Wine and Where Does it Come From? Oh, and do people actually add sugar to wine?!

When we first hear about residual sugar it feels a bit off-putting. After all, we’ve been told that wines aren’t sweet. So, let’s define residual sugar in wine and what to expect in different types of wine.

Residual Sugar (or RS) is from natural grape sugars leftover in a wine after the alcoholic fermentation finishes. It’s measured in grams per liter.

So for example, a wine with 10 grams per liter of residual sugar has 1% sweetness or a total of 5.8 carbohydrates per serving (5 ounces / 150 ml).

How much Residual Sugar is there in wine?

Residual sugar levels vary in different types of wine. In fact, many grocery store wines labeled as “dry” contain about 10 g/L of residual sugar. Noticeably sweet wines start at around 35 grams per liter of residual sugar and then go up from there.

In case you didn’t already know, the sugar in grapes is a blend of glucose and fructose. During the fermentation process, yeast eats these sugars to make alcohol. That being said, it’s possible to stop the fermentation before all the sugar gets consumed (through chilling or filtration).

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