“Is there sugar in your wines?”
We get this question a lot at Vegan Wines.
The short answer is this: The wines in our inventory have no added sugar.
Our wines, like all wines, do contain the naturally occurring sugars that come from grapes. It’s the sugar in wine that is used to create alcohol through the process of fermentation. The yeast “eats” and metabolizes the sugars into alcohol (and carbon dioxide).
So basically, you need to have sugar in wine… if you want to have alcohol.
The riper the grape, the more sugar in the fruit. The juice of wine grapes can start out intensely sweet, but fermentation uses up that sugar as the yeasts feast upon it. The natural sugar from the grapes that remains after the fermentation process is complete is known as “residual sugar.” That sweetness does not come from corn syrup or granulated sugar, as many fear.
Inside the grapevine–or any plant–the primary energy source is sucrose (in animals, it’s glucose). Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose molecules. As the grape ripens, this breaks down, so fermentation always begins with equal parts glucose and fructose–two types of naturally occurring sugars you’ve probably heard of.
During winemaking, if the yeast converts all of the grape sugars into alcohol, this will result in a dry wine. However, sometimes not all of the sugar is fermented by the yeast, which means there will be some sweetness left over.
Riesling is a great example of a well-known wine that contains residual sugar.
In some cases, residual sugar can be used to mask lower quality grapes, particularly in cheaper wines, however, there are plenty of amazing bottles of high-quality wine that are made in sweeter styles.
But I’ve heard that some wines have added sugar?
Yes, it’s true that sometimes winemakers add sugar to their wines when they feel it’s needed or when the grapes are not as ripe as they’d like. They may add cane sugar or beet sugar before fermentation to increase the alcohol content through a process called chaptalization. This is more common in wines from cooler regions where grapes ripen less quickly, like Oregon, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. It’s also common in sparkling wines.
At Vegan Wines, however, our wines contain only the naturally occurring sugars from grapes. The winemakers we have partnered with do not add any sugar to their wines. Like them, we believe that naturally vegan wines are also naturally delicious and beautiful without much intervention at all!
Try some of our outstanding vegan wines–with no added sugar! Just visit the online shop!
More Resources and References:
The Sweet Spot: Understanding Sugar in Wine. GuildSomm
Sugar in Wine, The Great Misunderstanding. Wine Folly
Health Q&A: Do winemakers add sugar to wine? Wine Spectator