Designation for wines with a high content of unfermented sugar, which are pressed from grapes rich in sugar. Optimal climatic conditions for this exist in many places around the Mediterranean, which is why many of the famous sweet wines come from Greece, Spain, France, Portugal and Italy. They have an ancient tradition. Among the most famous ancient wines are the raisin wine Passum from Rome and the Commandaria from the island of Cyprus. In the late Middle Ages, sweet wines were immensely popular with the European ruling houses. The Greek port city of Monemvasia was a famous transshipment point for sweet specialities from islands in the Aegean Sea such as Crete, Paros, Samos and Santorini. The emerging worldwide trade made the Constantia from South Africa, the sweet wines from France and the Tokaj from Hungary famous and famous. From the 16th century onwards, expeditions to the newly discovered regions made it possible to preserve wines with alcohol for the long sea voyages. This was the beginning of the triumphal procession of Madeira, Port wine, Sherry and Co.
According to EU regulations, a still wine with at least 45 and a sparkling wine with 50 g/l residual sugar is considered sweet. For certain sweet wines, the unfermented sugar is far higher, for Tokaj Eszencia it reaches record values of 450 g/l and more. A prerequisite is high must weights or sugar concentration in the berries. These can be highly ripe and/or botrytis-induced, noble rot or noble sweet berries, or the grapes are dried or raisined in various ways. Examples of the latter are Passito, Recioto and straw wine. The production methods of the many sweet wines differ greatly from each other. As a rule, sugar may only be added to higher quality products before fermentation for the purpose of enrichment (increasing the alcohol content), but not afterwards to increase the degree of sweetness. However, there is also sweetening using grape must, concentrated grape must or RTK (rectified concentrated grape must).
Natural sweet wines (french: Vin naturellement doux) are those products whose fermentation has ended naturally without human intervention because the yeasts have, so to speak, given up their work. These are Ausbruch, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, straw wine and ice wine. In a variety of sweet wines, the alcohol content is increased by sprit, but this is also a method of stopping fermentation prematurely. These include versions of Banyuls, Madeira, Malaga, Port, Samos, Sherry, Vin doux naturel, Vinsanto and Vin Santo. These wines can reach an alcohol content of 15 to 20% vol. The most famous producers of sweet wines include wineries in Constantia (South Africa), Château d'Yquem (France), Egon Müller-Scharzhof (Germany) and Kracher (Austria).
See with regard to the wine-law requirements for tastes ranging from dry to sweet for still wines with a sugar content; and for sparkling wines for sparkling wines. Complete lists of the numerous cellar techniques, as well as the types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law are included under vinification. Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under the keyword wine law.