Technique

Back Sweetening Wine Techniques

In ancient Greece and Rome, honey was sometimes stirred into wine just before serving. Maybe they just liked the taste of honey. More likely, though, the sweetness of the honey corrected some fault of bitterness or sourness. It might have enhanced fruitiness or rounded out mouthfeel. Honey, sugar, or other sweeteners can still make those improvements in your homemade wine today. Since we would rather have a shelf-stable, ready-to-drink beverage instead of mixing up wine cocktails, techniques have been developed over the years to sweeten wine in a stable manner. Most modern wine ferments dry (or nearly so). Various authors put acceptable sugar levels in “dry” wine somewhere between 2 and 4 grams per liter (0.2% to 0.4%). Much above those levels and you get into sweet wine territory. Even beyond stirring in some honey, there are four ways wine is purposefully made sweet. The first method involves picking or processing (drying, freezing, rotting) grapes to very high sugar levels resulting in a natural stop in fermentation as the alcohol level climbs; a deliberate “stuck” fermentation. French Sauternes is made