On Saturday, February 18 from 1-3pm, we’re hosting a wine tasting focusing on sweet wines. Sometimes sweet wines can get a bad reputation, with most people thinking of mass produced and poorly made products. The truth is that sweet wine have been around for hundreds of years, and for good reason: they’re delicious!

Charles & Charles Riesling

This excellent, single vineyard riesling is everything one can want from a Washington riesling. Its sweetness is held in balance by a taut acidity that accents. The resulting wine is a gorgeous, full-flavored riesling with aromas driven by stone fruit, mineral notes, wet rock, citrus, and floral scents. Its palate has a beautiful focus with lingering notes of honeysuckle and crushed rock. For those looking to try a Washington state or a new world riesling, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one than this.

Tintero Gramella Moscato

With this wine, the Tintero family provides a rarity among Italian moscatoes, a single vineyard bottling. The Sori vineyard is located on the southern facing slope of a hill named “Gramella” which creates a perfect microclimate for growing moscato. Full of fruit flavors like peach, apricot, and quince, this wine is an ideal pairing for light meals or an afternoon of steady sipping. Its light body and low alcohol level make it an ideal wine for parties and social events.

Le Tertre de Lys Sauternes

Bright golden color with pale gold hue, the nose contains top notes of honeyed apricot followed by some raisin, toffee, and spice. The wine’s rich and luscious palate texture shows excellent concentration with mouth-filling flavors of honey, raisins, apricot and apple. The finish is clean with a long aftertaste of honey, apricot, and raisin. Though only a 375ml bottle, this wine is meant to be sipped and savored. Pair it with an array of sweetbreads or desserts for the end of a meal, or, opt to recreate one of the world’s best wine pairings: foie gras and Sauternes.

Cocchi Asti

Asti Cocchi is a sweet sparkling produced in the hills, just north of the Italian city of Asti. Made from the moscato grape, the wine has a rich and intense aroma with notes of wisteria, acacia and honey on the palate. It features a well-balanced sweetness and a low alcohol content (7% Vol). It’s ideal with desserts and is a must with almond or hazelnut pastries. It also makes a wonderful accompaniment with orange juice in a morning’s mimosa. Out of all the Italian sparkling moscatoes, few achieve this level of balance. Even those who claim to not like sweet wines will be coming back to this one again and again.

Montinore Borealis

Mouthwatering and multi-dimensional, this perennial crowd-pleaser is a blend of our favorite cool-climate whites: gewurztraminer, muller-thurgau, pinot gris and riesling. Intensely aromatic, with a nose of tropical flowers, ripe kiwi and melon, the silky soft palate is brimming with rose petals, pink grapefruit, mango and white nectarine then finishes on a high, clean note of bright key lime.

Rosa Regale

Sparkling wine from the brachetto grape as long been a traditional sign of affection in Italy. Legend has it that both Julius Ceaser and Marc Antony sent it to Cleopatra in hopes to win her heart. Rosa Regale is a wine that fits any occasion and is an ideal match for any palate. The slightly off-dry nature of the wine makes it a perfect pairing with anything from seafood to spicy Asian cuisine. In the glass, it shines a bright and festive pink with striking fruit aromas that are followed by dramatic notes of raspberry and strawberry that dance across the palate.

“Is it sweet?”

This is something I get asked at least once a day. Some people are looking for sweeter wines while others are trying to avoid them. Sweetness in wines seems be something about which everyone has an opinion, but few people know exactly how to express their views.

To understand sweetness in wines, you’ll need to understand the term residual sugar (RS). RS is the amount of sugar that is left over after the fermentation process. You’ll remember that fermentation is simply the process by which yeast convert sugar into alcohol. Based on the wine and the winemaker’s desired style of wine, fermentation can either end naturally, when the yeasts have converted all of the sugar to alcohol, or stop the process early to preserve a small amount of sugar in the wine.

Talking about the amount of sugar in a wine can be difficult, in part, due to the complex wine terms that describe sweetness in wines. You can use the following terms to see the differences in wine sweetness levels.

BONE DRY: 0 grams per liter of sugar (g/L). There is no sugar at all in these wines.

DRY: 1 – 9 g/L of sugar Almost all red wines and most white wines. For most people, under 9 g/L is so low that the human tongue can’t taste the sugar.

OFF DRY: 10 – 18 g/L. This is where the sugar begins to be noticeable to the human tongue. Wines make in off dry styles include chenin blanc (often labeled as “sec”), some rieslings, and extra dry Champagne.

MEDIUM SWEET: 19 – 120 g/L. For an every-day comparison, a typical can of Coca Cola, contains about 110 g/L of sugar. This is the largest category of sweet wines, and it includes many rieslings, moscatos, and Champagnes that are labeled “demi sec” or “sec.” You’ll also find many wines made from torrontes and gewurztraminer in this category. Fortified wines, such as Madeira and Port are also in this category, though at the higher end of the spectrum.

VERY SWEET: More than 121 g/L. This is as sweet as it gets, and this category is dominated by four major wines: Rieslings, ice wines (sometimes called eiswein), the French dessert wine of Sauternes, and a Hungarian wine called Tokaji.  

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