Pacific Rim
April 19, 2021 | wine | Pacific Rim

Red Wine Sweetness Chart

Many people who order wine often ask, “Is the wine sweet?’ Overall, most casual drinkers prefer a wine that is sweet instead of bitter or acidic.

Two People Toasting With Red Wine

Compared to red wines, white wines tend to be sweeter and are more commonly ordered at a restaurant. But even though red wines are complex and much heavier, there are certain brands that are sweet to a degree. 

The red wine sweetness chart will tell you that the Pinot Noir sweetness level is not high; it is a dry wine, yet very popular because it has a fruitier taste, which lends itself well to approaching a sweetness level.

Why Are Some Red Wines Sweeter Than Others?

To make red wine, grapes need to be crushed and allowed to ferment. During the process of fermentation, the grape sugar is converted to alcohol, which is the reason for the bitter taste.

By preventing longer fermentation, permits more of the grape sugar to remain intact and less alcohol; thereby resulting in a final product that is much sweeter. 

There is a little more to the story to be told, however, because wine drinkers tend to confuse sweetness with fruitiness.

Some red wines will be fruiter rather than sweet because of the type of grape. Grapes grown in warmer weather climates tend to be sweeter because of the high sugar content but sometimes these wines can also be fruitier rather than sweet. 

While the Pinot Noir sweetness level is not high, it is lighter and fruitier than some other red, dry wines.

Range Of Sweetness In Red Wines

Red wines have a range of sweetness. Most sparkling red wines tend to have low sugar content (i.e., Lambrusco) but they tend to taste fruitier.

If you are looking for a sweet red wine, you may opt to try a Schiava or Dornfelder. If you like to be bold and love alcohol, select a fortified red wine. Most Portuguese wines tend to be fortified like Marsala, Port, or Madeira.

When shopping, if you see the word “dry” wine, it usually means it contains very little sugar (i.e., Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, etc.); these wines contain more alcohol than sugar and can be slightly bitter.

If you are at a restaurant and have no idea which red wine is sweet, ask the server or sommelier. Wine labels will indicate the residual sugar (RS) and the alcohol by volume (ABV) content.

If you are shopping and want a sweet red wine, then you will not go wrong with choosing a dessert wine (i.e., Cupcake Red Velvet, Carletto Ricco, Ramos pinto, etc.).

If you are just learning to appreciate all that wine has to offer, there are red wine sweetness charts available that clearly state which wines are sweet, semi-dry, or dry.  Give each a try to find what your palette will enjoy most.

Overall, red wines tend to be healthier, not because they are less sweet compared to white wines but because they contain a higher amount of resveratrol, a substance that has been found to lower cholesterol levels. 

In the end, the sweetness is relative when it comes to red wines. The taste may vary depending on the event, the food, and the social circumstances.

Finally, keep a diary of the wines you try.  When you like a glass of red wine, make a note so you will remember it in the future.  Check out Pacific Rim and Company to see all the offerings.


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