Pacific Rim
November 29, 2021 | wine | Pacific Rim

Is Red Blend Wine Sweet?

The sweetness of red blend wine depends on the amount of residual sugar. During fermentation of the grapes, if all the sugar is not converted to alcohol, then the residual sugar left behind will make the wine sweet. When it comes to answering the question, “Is red blend wine sweet?” The answer is that there is a range of sweetness - from sweet and mildly sweet to dry. 

There is a huge demand right now for sweet red blend wines, and, in the USA, California is the most prolific producer of these wine types. It appears that wine consumers today are finding sweeter wines preferable, which include fruity red blend wines. However, Washington State has also seen a boost in the production of sweet red blend wines.

Washington state sweet red vineyard

How Much Sugar is in Red Blend Wine?

It all depends on the type of red blend wine you consume. Are red blends sweet? A single glass of red blend wine can contain anywhere from 1 gram of sugar (quarter teaspoon) to nearly 15 grams (4 teaspoons).

Does the Label State the Amount of Residual Sugar in Red Blend Wine?

Are red blends sweet?  Unfortunately, there is no mandatory requirement that wine producers have to state the amount of residual sugar. Some producers do, but many do not. If the label states the residual sugar content, it may be expressed as grams/100 ml, grams/liter, or as a percentage.

So How Can You Tell If the Red Blend Wine is Sweet?

In general, the following rule applies to help answer the question, “Are red blends sweet?”:

  • If the wine is inexpensive (usually less than $10 a bottle), then it will likely have residual sugar that varies from 2-15 grams/liter. There are exceptions to this rule, but, for the most part, you can't go wrong with this description. If you are looking for sweet wine, often the more inexpensive wines will be desirable.
  • If you buy a moderately priced wine, costing between $14-$25, it will generally have less residual sugar, but, typically, the grapes used will be of better quality.  These wines may not taste as sweet but will likely be fruitier.

Some Sweet and Not-So-Sweet Red Blend Wines?

  • Pinot Noir has low sugar and is considered a dry wine. A glass of Pinot Noir will have about one gram of sugar.  You can use Pinot Noir in a red wine blend.
  • Merlot has low residual sugar levels and is also considered to be a dry wine. A glass of merlot will have about one gram of sugar.  Merlot is often used in red wine blends.
  • Malbec is a full-bodied wine with high alcohol content, thereby less residual sugar. A glass of Malbec will have about 1.5 grams of sugar.  Malbec is often used as a blending grape.
  • Zinfandel is a light wine with fruity flavors. It is a medium-sweet wine that contains about 10-20 grams of sugar per glass. Zinfandel is also often used as a blending grape, particularly with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot.
  • Both Grenache and Shiraz are light-bodied wines with fruity flavors. A glass of Shiraz or Grenache will contain about 20 grams of sugar.  Both are used in blending red wine.  Shiraz has a fresh and fruity flavor that is often chosen to help balance weaker grape varietals in red blended wines.
  • Port wines tend to be higher in sugar content.

Most sweet sparkling wines will have a sugar content between 17 to 50 grams per liter.

Red blend wines are a combination of grapes.  So, is red blend wine sweet?  It depends on the mixture. It can be sweet, or it can be less sweet, depending on which other wines are used in its blending.  For answers to all your wine questions, call the people who are passionate about everything involved in the winemaking processes, Pacific Rim & Company, at 1-503-863-5454.


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