The sugar level in wine is determined during fermentation when the grape’s innate sugar is converted to alcohol.
If fermentation is stopped well before all of the sugar is converted to alcohol, the wine will contain more residual sugar and taste sweeter.
Generally, sweet dessert wines, late harvest wines, fortified wines, and many regional Rieslings with lower alcohol levels of under 11% ABV contain elevated sugar levels.
For wine lovers who happen to be dieters, particular attention is given to the amount of sugar intake. The empty calories in sugar wreak havoc on insulin levels, aggravate health issues in some of us and can lead to insomnia while also making us gain weight.
So, it’s only natural to know the level of residual sugar contained in a bottle of wine.
Levels of Residual Sugar in Wine
- Dry Reds and Dry Whites: These wines tend to be lower in residual sugar levels weighing in at 0.1-0.3% sugar per litre. In other words, with 1 to 3 grams of sugar per litre of wine, red and dry white wines often have considerably low sugar levels.
- Champagne: If you’re looking to lower sugar intake on sparkling wines, go for extra dry, brut, or extra brut sparkling wine and Champagne as the residual sugar levels will be in the 0.6 – 2.0% sugar per litre range (or 6 to 20 grams of sugar per litre of wine), with extra brut being the driest wine and lowest in sugar content.
- Off-Dry Wines: Most of these have a residual sugar range of up to 1-3% (or 10 to 30 grams of sugar per litre), so they tend to be a little sweeter on the palate.
- Fortified Wines: The sweeter fortified wines such as Port, Sherry, and Marsala can weigh in as high as 15% residual sugar (or 150 grams of sugar per litre) but often runs a little lower in the 5% range.
- Late Harvest Wines: While popular for being a sweet treat, and often served as dessert, late harvest wines can run as high as 20+% residual sugar with a whopping 200 grams, or more, of sugar per litre.