A wine is considered a sweet wine once its residual sugar levels exceed the threshold of 45 grams of sugar per litre.
These kinds of wines are then divided into naturally sweet wines and sweet natural wines. In addition, we can find semi-sweet wines.
Naturally sweet wines are those where the alcohol and residual sugar levels in them come directly from the grapes. We can achieve the necessary sugar concentration to make these wines in the actual vine or once the grapes have been harvested.
With the grape still in the vine, we can get to these sugar concentrations through three different processes: late harvesting, freezing of the grapes (ice wines) or through “noble” rotting by botrytis cinerea. On the other side, when the grape has already been harvested, we can get to the threshold of residual sugar concentrations by grape dehydration in the sun or by drying the grapes in the shade.
The sweet natural wines are those where, in order to get to the necessary amount of residual sugar in the wine, we add wine alcohol. This addition of alcohol to must is called chaptalization, and it is done until the mix reaches a level between 15 and 17% of alcoholic volume.
In Spain, the star grape strain to elaborate sweet wines is muscatel, although there are also other excellent ones elaborated from the Pedro Ximenez, malvasía and monastrell grape varieties, among others.
Form the over 200 grape varieties which share the name muscatel, the majority of them do not have close relationship between them. The exception to these are the members of the Moorish muscatel or small grain muscatel, as well as the Alexandria muscatel.
Sweet wines don’t necessarily have to accompany a dessert or foods like foie and cheese, they can also be enjoyed by themselves, as a glass of sweet wine can be a dessert on itself.
From the Martínez Bujanda Family, we recommend Finca Antigua Moscatel Naturalmente Dulce, elaborated from the Moorish or small grain muscatel variety and through grape dehydration. In addition, another perfect wine is the light Infinitus Moscatel, from Cosecheros y Criadores (“Harvesters and Breeders”)