Wines: What are still wines?

Wines: What are still wines?

It will be said that grapes are grown and converted into alcohol literally everywhere, but there are regions in which its wine production was started in ancient times and is flourishing to this day. 

Still wines are divided into:

1. Natural table wines – these wines contain only alcohol obtained by natural fermentation. Their strength is usually between 9% and 17%. In this group wines are distinguished:- dry (sugar content – up to 3 g / l – they say “sugar is fermented to dryness”);
– dry special (sugar content – up to 3 g / l);
– semi-dry (sugar content – 5-30 g / l);
– semi-sweet (sugar content – 30-80 g / l).

2. Natural fortified – these wines may contain rectified alcohol. Their strength is from 12% to 21%. They are divided into:
– strong (sugar content – 30-120 g / l, strength up to 21%);
– sweet (sugar content – up to 150 g / l);
– semi-dessert (sugar content – 50-120 g / l);
– dessert (sugar content – 160-200 g / l);
– liqueur (sugar content – 210-300 g / l).


3. Flavored wines – are prepared using rectified alcohol, sucrose, and infusions of various plants. Their strength can range from 16% to 18%.

By the composition of wine

Sugar and alcohol content

The classification of wine products by alcohol and sugar content implies their division into three main groups, which in turn are divided into their own subsections.

Table types of alcohol are of three types:

  • dry: alcohol content ranges from 9 to 14%, sugar – 0.3%;
  • semi-dry: alcohol – from 9 to 12%, sugar – from 0.5 to 3%;
  • semi-sweet: alcohol – from 9 to 12%, sugar – from 3 to 8%.

Fortified drinks are represented by such famous varieties. These drinks have five main types.

  • strong: alcohol – from 17 to 20%, sugar – from 1 to 14%;
  • semi-sweet dessert: alcohol – from 14 to 16%, sugar – from 5 to 12%;
  • sweet: alcohol – from 15 to 17%, sugar – from 14 to 20%;
  • liqueur: alcohol – from 12 to 17%, sugar – from 21 to 35%;
  • flavored: alcohol – from 16 to 18%, sugar – from 6 to 16%.

Sparkling spirits have different alcohol and sugar contents. Their peculiarity lies in the fact that during fermentation the product is additionally saturated with carbon dioxide. The most demanded and popular sparkling in the world is champagne.

Carbon dioxide and tartaric acid content

1. The indicator of the level of acidity is as important as the amount of sugar and alcohol contained in the hot drink. The taste of alcohol directly depends on the acid it contains, which is responsible for the richness and astringency of the product. Classification by acidity categories is presented in three groups:

  • fresh – contain a small amount of acid and have a mild taste (pH from 2.5 to 3.1);
  • medium – a moderate amount of acid, have an average flavor (pH from 3.1 to 3.8);
  • tart and sour are distinguished by a rather sour taste and pronounced astringency (pH from 3.8 to 4.5).

The greatest amount of acid is found in white, as they are most often grown in colder areas. However, there are also red wines with high acidities.

2. Wines containing carbon dioxide constitute an independent group and are divided into two categories.

  • Sparkling drinks are drinks that are naturally saturated with carbon dioxide, which is released during the fermentation of grape must in special vessels under pressure. Fermentation can be either primary – natural, with wild yeast, or secondary, which is carried out by adding artificial yeast.
  • Sparkling wines are carbonated wines artificially saturated with carbon dioxide.

By sugar content

If the yeast has converted all the sugar from the grape juice into alcohol, then there is almost no sugar left, and the wine is dry. If the yeast failed to do this or was interfered with, then this sugar remained and now we have semi-sweet and sweet options. So, division according to the degree of sweetness:

Dry wine is with a minimum of naturally occurring residual sugar.

  • By the way, why is it called “dry”?

Remember when we said that for white the concept of “strong” begins earlier than for red? A similar story with the sweetness of sparkling. Due to the fact, that is made sparkling is much sour than usual (still), the sweetness in it is perceived as weaker. Therefore, sparkling has its own dryness scale, where the concept of “dry sparkling” starts from the top mark of about 30 g / l (feel the difference!), And the mark of 4 g / l corresponds to the concept of “extra brut”.

A semi-dry, semi-sweet wine is in which the natural sugar of the grapes remains on average up to 50 g / l.

In the case of semi-any versions, we are talking about deliberately interrupting fermentation to preserve residual sweetness. And as a rule, this is done to mask the deficiencies with sugar. Therefore, you will surely hear from wine snobs the opinion that “semi-dry and semi-sweet is a forced half-measure of a negligent winemaker.” 

Since fermentation is interrupted, the wort retains sugar, but does not have time to gain strength, so semi-dry and semi-sweet are often low-alcoholic:

Semi-dry Anjou rose with a strength of 10.5%

Natural sweet wine is a wine with a natural residual sugar content of more than 50 g / l. And here the nuances begin.

Naturally, sweetness can be obtained by interrupting fermentation. One way to do this is to add some alcohol/distillate, so most fortified are not dry.

Or you can take berries, in which there is so much sugar that the yeast simply cannot cope with it and will die without finishing it.

The second case is definitely related to something special: it is either late picking of suitable varieties in a suitable place, or drying the crop to increase the concentration of the must, or freezing berries (see Icewein), or God knows what else. In such special cases, it is customary to talk about special types of natural sweet wine, which are classified as “noble” and expensive.

Another article on this blog that might interests you:

Wine classification

Rob Prosser