Having discussed some of the best known sweet wines, Port and Sherry, I thought it might be fun to briefly examine two lesser known styles of sweet wine; late harvest and ice wines. Both are made from grapes picked very late in the season, but there are some key differences.
Late Harvest Wines
By definition, all grapes used to make late harvest wines are allowed to hang on the vine longer than those intended for dry table wines. This causes the ripening process (véraison in French) to continue through late fall and early winter, which greatly increases the sugar content of the grapes. The “Brix” of grapes, which is a measurement of their sugar content, is often around 24° to 26° for dry table wines, but it can be over 35° in late harvest wines. Each 1° Brix represents approximately 1 gram of dissolved sugar per 100 grams of liquid. Table grapes, as a point of reference, typically have around 17° to 19° Brix, which gives you an idea of just how sweet wine grapes are when harvested and how very sweet late harvest wine grapes would be if eaten. Read the rest of this entry »