Pacific Rim
April 9, 2021 | wine | Pacific Rim

Is Red or White Wine Sweeter?

The universal question often asked, “Is red or white wine sweeter?” The answer is that white wines tend to be sweeter than red wines. But sweetness is a relative term. Man Pouring Glass of Red and White Wine There is a whole range of sweetness when it comes to wines. The eventual flavor will depend on the type of grape, where it is grown, the duration of the fermentation process, and the climate of the region where it was grown.


All wines are made from grapes; once the grapes are collected and washed, they are crushed and allowed to ferment. During this process, the grape sugar is converted into alcohol, which is the reason for the bitter or acidic taste.

The longer the fermentation, the higher the alcohol concentration and the less sweet the wine becomes. To make a wine sweet, the fermentation process is arrested early, which allows for the preservation of the grape sugars.

Overall, the riper the grape the sweeter the flavor but sometimes this can also lead to a more fruity taste rather than sweet.

Other things that can affect the answer to the question, “Is white or red wine sweeter?” include the level of acidity and presence of tannins.

Finally, grapes grown in warm weather, such as what tends to be the case in California, often ripen better and often have a sweeter taste. 

Wine Terminology You Should Know

When a wine is dry, this means that all the grape sugar has been converted into alcohol during the fermentation process, whereas a sweet wine will still have some residual sugar.

In between the dry and sweet wines are also wines labeled as “semi-dry” or “off-dry.”  These wines tend to be mild and lightly sweet. 

Port: You will also note the word “port” can be found on some wines. These wines are fortified and tend to have a much higher alcohol content compared to regular wines.

The label will indicate the Alcohol by volume (ABV), which is usually about 20 percent in port wines. These wines are quite bitter, and it takes time to get acquainted with the taste. Because of the high alcohol content, port wines are usually served in small portions or small glasses.

Sweet Red Wines: When you want the answer to the question, “Is red or white wine sweeter?” to be red, here are a few that will not disappoint your taste buds:

  • Amarone
  • Beaujolais Nouveau
  • Chocolate Red Wine
  • Dolcetto
  • Dornfelder
  • Lambrusco. Lambrusco

When you want the answer to the question, “Is white or red wine sweeter?” to be white, here are a few to try:

  • Ice Wine
  • Late Harvest Wine
  • Moscato
  • Riesling
  • Sauternes

Read Labels

If you like to drink sweet wines, make sure you know how to read the label correctly.  Doing so can help you identify sweet wines.

Look for the alcohol by volume (ABV) number, which usually runs from 5-23 percent. For a sweet wine, you should select a wine with a low ABV and high residual sugar content.

Finally, remember, the sweeter your wine, the higher the calorie content. A 5-ounce glass of wine can provide around 120 calories.  Check online with Pacific Rim and Company to learn about a variety of wines.


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