WSET Bitesize – Why are some wines sweet?

Hello everyone uh and welcome to this uh WSET bite size webinar on why are some Wines sweet so before we get into the Main body of the presentation Um just a couple of things I'd like to Point out So firstly this Um webinar along with all of our bite Size webinars will be available on our Global events or on YouTube So it will be being recorded Um and a copy of this will be emailed to All participants who are joining us live This morning So myself my name is Rob Crouch I am a Business development manager with the Emea team here at wsct I've been around Now for about four and a half years Working with the business development Team and I'm sure that a lot of you will Already know who wsct are and what we do But for those who may be new to us or Join him for the first time with one of Our webinars wsct is the world's largest And leading provider of qualifications In the wine spirit and sake area we've Been running these courses for well over 50 years 50 years was our in 2019 so We're kind of getting towards 55 years Now and we run them over increasing Difficulty levels so level one being Beginner level and people who are Potentially brand new to to the um The topics of wine spirits or sake right

Through to level three for spirits and Sake and level four for wine which is The diploma level Um and therefore internationally Recognized experts So I'm about to start the presentation On why are some wines sweet but I just Wanted to give you a bit of an insight As to why Um I've chosen this particular topic to Talk to you about today Um I I just love sweet wine I think sweet Wine is a a style which these days is Probably weighing in slightly in Popularity Um and I just think more people should Should try sweet wine I love it um and If you haven't had Um some of the styles that we're going To talk about I would really recommend Giving them a try So before we really can get into the Main body of Um of sweet wines and the production Styles I wanted to cover off two Questions which I think are a Fundamental really to All Wine but it Will really help us understand some of The concepts and and some of the Processes behind Um some of the sweet wines that we're Going to talk about so firstly the Simple question is what happens during

Fermentation so as you can see here in This very nice and easy equation Um when sugar and yeast come together The byproduct that is created is alcohol And carbon dioxide so How this works yeah and this is the same With we're fermenting Um grapes or musk in this instance or Any alcoholic product at all yeast eats Sugar it needs it to survive and so Therefore any sugary liquid any sweet Liquid can in theory be be fermented and What that does is as it eats the sugar It produces that alcohol As the byproduct So when the yeast has gone through this Process and when there is no longer Enough sugar left in that liquid Fairly obviously self-explanatory the Wine will become dry and it will be full Strength because there is no longer the Sugar there so that makes it drier But the yeast has converted that sugar Into alcohol and so therefore the Alcohol becomes slightly higher And then the second area that I think is Really important that we all understand In terms of going into sweet wines and Talking more about them is what is a Grape Um now of course everybody joining this I'm sure will will be familiar with what A grape is but when we look behind the The skin as it were and into the middle

We can we can look at a few areas so Firstly the pulp which is that behind The skin green part that you can see on The screen there it's comprised largely Of three things so water sugar and acids And in order to create the perception of Heightened sweetness or concentrate that Sweetness We need to reduce the water content in The in in the grape itself And as well as concentrating obviously The sweetness as the water dissipates This also intensifies both the sweetness And also the acidity in that grape Because I always like to use the analogy If you have a two glasses of water one Is full one is half full and you put the Same amount of sugar into both quite Clearly the glass with less water in Will be a sweeter liquid because the Ratio liquid to sugar is obviously Higher and I know that these seem really Basic and obvious Concepts but I think It's really important just to step away From the wine world and really just Understand it from a very basic point So let's talk about a few different wine Production methods What I want to talk about today is the Process of stopping that fermentation Early so again if we think back to that First question that we looked at Previously We we remember that the yeast is there

Busy eating the sugar and creating Alcohol And as that carries on Um producing the the alcohol It is it eats in a way that Sugar Um And by stopping this fermentation early Therefore we will create that sweeter Must or wine as it comes out the other Side but it will have a lower alcohol Content because the yeast has not been Able to finish its job which is to Convert all of that sugar into alcohol A few things to point out as we go Through these production Styles and some Of the stylistic choices that wine Makers have Um there are going to be a fair uh Variety of different styles so it's Important to remember with ending Fermentation early generally speaking This will create a lighter bodied wine Style so Pretty light and and easy going in terms Of Um in in the mouth feel And there are two common ways to to Achieve this now the first one I'm going To touch on very briefly which is Fortification I'm not going to go into a huge amount Of detail with fortification because I Believe that we will be hosting a a Another bite-sized webinar going into

Much more detail around that But essentially if you look at a sweet Wine like Port which as you'll be aware I'm sure it's it's fortified and also Fairly high in in alcohol Essentially what's done there is the the Fermentation of the original Um Baseline is stopped relatively early On so that the Um the liquid is still very very sweet But the the process of stopping it is Actually to add Um a different alcohol so a fully formed Great spirit in the case of poor which Essentially kills that yeast off so Whilst the liquid remains sweet the Um the alcohol is brought up so that's One method the second one which I think Is more common for the sweet wines that We're talking about and certainly the Sweet wines which are um Table wine as opposed to fortified wine Is temperature control and you can see Here with this fermentation vessel that I have on the screen these days we are Talking about modern equipment and the Ability to control temperature is very Easy historically it was more of a Challenge but now Essentially what you can do is Chill That must write down you don't want to Freeze it doesn't need to be ice cold But if you chill it really down what That essentially does is sends the the

Yeast into some form of hibernation so It stops eating that Sugar stops the Process Um and actually in many cases that yeast Can then be collected afterwards and Reused for Um for different wines and and different Purposes I just wanted to leave Um the fermentation early slide with a Simple tip based on what we've just Talked about now it's not always the Case as with nearly everything in wine There is very rarely something which is Completely set in stone but I think a Really good tip if you are new to wine And you want to try some of these styles If you find a wine in a in a in a shop Or a supermarket which has got a low Um ABV so maybe 10 or lower there's a Really good chance that This process has been used here and Therefore if it's below 10 the Likelihood is it's probably going to Have a fair amount of residual sugar Left in that liquid so if you're unsure About it but you want to try some Sweeter Styles this is a really simple Simple tip that can be used and in terms Of wines I'm sure we'll be familiar with That you you may have come across many Times they've used this method uh White Zinfandel is is often Um made by ending fermentation slightly

Earlier which I'm sure if you're aware Of that style has that sweetness that Kind of sweet strawberry taste To it Okay The next Area that I want to run through is light Harvested grapes so now we're going away From that question number one if we Think back to that original question Slide and now we're looking more Um at the that process of reducing the Water content in the grapes So late harvested grapes fairly Self-explanatory these are grapes which Are harvested late But the key thing here again if we think Back to that first question the grapes Have fully ripened and then they're left Out and over the period of time they Start to shrivel so this is if you Imagine after the summer and the the We're moving into the Autumn they begin To shrivel and I'm sure anybody who has Seen apples left out on an apple tree uh Into Autumn can relate to this they Start to look shriveled in Um but what that's actually doing again The Via transpiration the water level is Reducing and therefore that sweetness And those extra ripe flavors start to Develop so you start to go from kind of Stone fruit flavors through the scale Into more tropical and and you start to

Pick up some really interesting dried Fruit notes as well on on these wines And that is purely because as we as we Saw previously that flavor profile Really starts to be concentrated This requires a dry Autumn simply Because if you have a lot of humidity in A very damp wet autumn it becomes a Breeding ground for fungal diseases Which we will touch on slightly later But it can create a fairly disastrous Fungal disease known as gray rot which Produces some really off flavors to to The wine and would be no good for Anybody so it's something that it Requires that dry Autumn so that they Can be left fairly low maintenance on Those binds to be able to do their thing And shrivel And as opposed to the previous slaboo on The lightest side these are more medium Medium plus bodies so that's residual Sugar is starting to create that mouth Feel and more body And in terms of some labeling terms if You are again wanting to try these Styles fairly obviously late Harvest is Seen in a lot of the English-speaking World or minds of this nature but within Um France alsas is an area that Springs To mind immediately the Don's tardief is The term for late Harvest and in the German-speaking world so Germany and Austria isn't would be again same

Concept late Harvest grapes but these Are just the different terms so if you See any of those Terms on a bottle that's what they mean And you can try this and as I say I Would encourage you to try us a range of Different different styles as we go Through this presentation The second area now this is in theory Fairly straightforward and similar Con In concept to late Harvest We are allowing the grapes to start to Raise and start to shrivel Key difference here is that these Scrapes are picked when still healthy And then they are subsequently dried off The vine So if you look at certain areas in Southern Europe so Southern Um Italy and Spain in particular These are often simply left out to dry In the Sun the the climate is so dry and The humidity is so low that the risk of Disease at that point is fairly minimal And therefore those certain areas are Able to dry those out and Um and really concentrate that flavor as We as we um discovered previously with The shoveling of the grapes These uh grapes that you're looking at Here on the screen are more likely to be Um from Valpolicella Um where they are put into Um these wooden baskets essentially and

Moved into Um drying rooms or drying Lofts within The winery Um which are carefully Um control for humidity for the exactly The same reason because you really need To avoid any humidity which could cause Disease And again as with before now we are Getting towards that really rich Full-bodied Um style uh Gone are the sort of lighter Elements these are really wines that Sort of pack a punch and you you can Really get that mouth feel and some of The the most famous wines that you will See or certainly the most famous sweet Wines that you'll see from this style Would be the vapolices and Vin Santo Which um again if you see them and you Want to give this style a try please do Um a dryer style famous for this is also Amaroni but I'm not going to talk too Much about that today because that is Obviously not um what we would Traditionally call a sweet wine And then finally on terms on the bottles Because I know it's always really for People who are beginning and getting Into this it's really interesting to see Some terms so a passimento or pacito are The two um terms that will signify this Process has happened so a pasamento is The process itself so that is the drying

Process Whereas pasito is the wine or the Resulting wine made from the opacimento So pasito wines have been made using the Pastimento method so but essentially Either of those two terms mean the same Thing and that means that they've been Dried off the of the great of the vinyl Rather Arthritis wines So we talked previously about Um uh fungal diseases and gray rot in Particular something that I mentioned Arthritis is quite an interest in Um Concept to get your head around really Because botulitis and gray rot are Essentially the same fungal strain they Are the same disease However botritis Um and or Noble writers it's often Referred to is essentially when these Conditions Um weather conditions wise Are able to create a favorable Um Take on on the wine so for this to work We need very very specific weather Conditions We need that dampness humidity maybe Mist in the morning but then that must Be followed by a very dry afternoon and What essentially that does is allows the The fungus to to come alive or to to

Attack the grapes but then that dry Afternoon stops it from developing or Over developing to the point where it Would cause gray rot And what this Essentially does is starts again drop Those grapes as you can see very clearly On these fairly Fairly um manky looking grapes here that Have been affected by Barbara again Shriveled in the water is being Um evaporated by the fungus which is Pierced the skin in microscopic holes And this creates a very very unique set Of flavors Um things that people often talk about Would be Ginger honey Um zest and orange peel that sort of Thing but for me marmalade which I've Got here on the slide Marmalade is the Um The the most unique and and the one that Always jumps out the glass at me whether Um whenever I'm tasting um arthritis Wines or or if you're trying a flight of Sweet wines blind I always find that That marmalade characteristic is so um Present that it becomes fairly Straightforward and obvious that it's a But try to stop So again these are rich and full-bodied As with before we are very much in that Full-bodied area

Um as some of the classic wines that you Will see here so turn Chuck and bearing Out schleser in Germany And Tokai and Hungary And finally this this is these set of Weather conditions are so unique but in Some regions Noble Rock arthritis is not guaranteed Every year it's just not possible Um if they have a really good year for For these conditions and absolutely they Can make some fantastic wines but there Are years when they can make very little Or even not at all Um and this all gives you that insight Into why Um these wines are so highly prized so Prestigious and ultimately cost Cost so much to buy because this is a Very very difficult natural naturally Occurring process which the winemakers Have to be very very skilled to be able To perform Um it's a very fine line at times Between but try to some great Um and gray rock so very very difficult To make not guaranteed and that's why All of that labor tends to add to the Prestiging cost And then the final style that I want to Go through today is ice wine or ice Vine Uh depends on where you are Um so I'm clearly the the again Germanic Influence you'll see at the bottom of

The slide there that the countries that Make these wines or or probably make Them that you know the most important in Terms of these wires they are made all Over really uh or certainly in those you Know cooler areas clearly but Canada Austria and Germany tend to be the three Biggest the most important producers of Our swine And again very simple in theory we're Separating that water to concentrate the Sweetness but this time we're separating The water via freezing So The distinction really between this and Some of the other styles that we've been Through is these grapes absolutely must Be healthy Uh any form of decaying or rot or Disease before this process would just Would just not work it would it would Really concentrate those off flavors so It's very very important that we that we Keep them out nice and healthy and then They must be left out all Autumn and Into winter the best wines are tend tend To be picked very late in winter so even As far as the Um the end of January So They have to be frozen they have to Remain healthy and for that reason They're only really used with very thick Skin Hardy varieties anything with thin

Skins is going to be too prone to to Disease too prone to Um The the various Um Natural environments which can affect The grapes And so Yes they keep all the way through the Winter And essentially when they are pressed That separates the ice from the from the Pulp from the juice For this reason Um as you can imagine a frozen grape the Amount of juice that comes out of that Is incredibly concentrated they are very Very low yield Um and again really full-bodied It's also worth talking with ice wine About some of the considerable risks That are present we've already discussed Disease and fungus and various Infections of that nature but clearly if You're going to believe in perfectly Healthy grapes out All through that Autumn and into winter Period they're also become natural pests Birds you can clearly see on this the Picture that we are using here that There are bird netting Um being used this is to keep away those Birds and keep away any other pests Which can which can eat the grapes

Any of these Um Grapes which could have been damaged in Any way cannot be used at the end of the The winter because obviously as soon as The Skins are split that leads them open To all sorts of other diseases so it's Really really difficult process making Sure that these Grapes remain healthy and Frozen all Through that period and again as we've Discussed before The this contributes to the yield being Very low Um the the labor the physical labor in The vineyard is very high and all of These add to those costs and exclusivity Of the of the wine style and and the the Low yields so this is again a very Sought after highly prized uh style of Wine Which Um It ultimately is is expensive because It's such a premium um quality product And we already talked through the Countries that that make some of these Wines so we'll we'll move on So hopefully that's a that's a really Good intro into some of the styles that We see with Um dessert wines and and sweet wines I'm gonna go for a very sort of broad Food and wine pairing now I think that And we teach at wsct that food and wine

Pairing is unique it's our individual And there's no one rule fits all here So the first thing to cover off really Is that dessert wines and and sweet Wines you you want these well chilled Um as opposed to lightly chilled or Obviously at room temperature and the Reason for that I think is because that Coldness these these wines are Are you know intense they're Concentrated Um They leap out of the the glass at you And I think that well-chilled factor Makes them more enjoyable but it also Suppresses some of that really strong Characteristics so really nice and cold Is the best way to drink these wines I've then put in you know talking about Why Um you know the food and wine parent Isn't necessarily Um You know there aren't there are no rules But there's no Escape in the fact that Sweet wines are often referred to as Dessert wines or pudding Wines in the UK In particular so why desserts well if You've ever tried a Um a really sweet piece of dessert cake Christmas pudding as I've got on the Slide there and you give it a good good Chew and kind of coat your mouth with That sweetness and then taste something

Like a dry white I don't know sauvignon Blanc from from the Loire or New Zealand Or wherever you will really feel that Kind of Um almost bitterness the kind of acidity Kind of knocks the the fruit out of out Of balance a little bit Um and do try that next time you've got A dessert and dry white wine to see how You how you feel but with dessert wine You're talking about wine which is as Um as sweet as the as the pudding itself Or as a dessert and what this does is Essentially slightly softens both the Dessert and the the wire takes the edge Off that sweetness So that rather than drinking Um a super sweet wine the dessert Softens it slightly and makes it even More palatable when those flavors become Even more expressive and the the kind of Lusciousness the sugar becomes less Noticeable Um and then finally some food pairing so As I say I have got the Christmas Pudding here I think it's Brilliant time of the year to try Dessert wines open a bottle when you've Got lots of people around the table you Can just tell even in that very small Picture the richness of Christmas put in There is so much and anyone who's ever Made it with the amount of fruit and Nuts and sweetness that goes into that

Is a really rich dessert and it really Does needs a wine partner which is Equally Um as a sweet for the reasons I've given And then finally possibly slightly Different which is why I wanted to Include it this is this is Rock Fork Blue cheese but any kind of salty cheese Salty blue cheese has the same Um Concept here and that is basically that The um the salt in the sh in the cheese Is balanced really well by that Sweetness and the sweetness takes from The from from the saltiness and they Balance each other out really well and Kind of marry together Um and again it softens both the both The wine and also the the saltiness of The cheese and that's what really food Pairing is all about it's all about Understanding what is going on in with The wine and also what is going on with The food at the same time how they Balance together and what Characteristics each have Um and and that's why you know it's so Important when you are eating to use Something which goes with your own um Palette and how your taste works Brilliant so Thank you so much for listening to me Today hopefully Um you've learned a little bit more

About uh sweet wines or if you're Already aware of sweet wines this was a Nice recap for you Um I am going to take any questions in Just a couple of minutes but just before That just wanted to run through Um again mentioning that this will be Recorded and put out onto YouTube so you Can revisit it or share it with people Um who you think might be interested Um and in them and in the meantime if You have liked any of these Um you know it's giving you that kind of Idea of wanting to learn more or taste Some more of this sweet wines and try Some Styles you've perhaps not had Before Please do visit our where to study page On our wsct Global website Um you can simply put in your own Postcode and it spits out all of your Local providers Um and you know our courses are are Fantastic even if I do say so myself but I'll also of course provide us locally Are also fantastic there are so many Really knowledgeable people out there so Do give that a look and thanks ever so Much for for your participation and we Are going to go to some q a Bear with one second so if you do have Any questions Now's the Time to To send those in So the first one we've got is

Um When we discuss about drying The Grapes Off the vine I imagine the amount of Time To be left Round would depend on the Grape and style of the wine but it's a Rough estimate how long are they left Dry enough to harvesting so yeah really Really good question Um Ultimately as you've pointed out in the Question there there is very much Um you know quite a large Variation here with how long this Process it can be it can be days or it Can be months I would say somewhere in Between that generally Um a month six weeks something like that Is is A rough a rough guess of how often that You know how long these happen for Um but but like you point out there it's Very much dependent on the winemaker the Why style that they're that they are Um looking to to create and ultimately How intense that is and equally if you Know to State the obvious if you're in The process of sun drying Um a batch of grapes and it starts to Rain or there's unseasonable weather That's going to create exactly the wrong Conditions so I don't think even Necessarily unless they're using Humidifying rooms

Um that there is often it is very much a Case you'll see in what the conditions Are like beforehand but yeah thanks for The thanks for the question Um there's also another question around Um dessert wise and how they were sweet Wines and how they Um age So just to have a a quick Quote uh answer to that one so It's it's a bit of a difficult because That's stopping the fermentation early Clearly those wines are probably not Going to age very long I'm not going to Recommend that you try to age while it's Infantel anytime soon for example Um but when we're talking about those More concentrated full-bodied Styles Absolutely they've got the body they've Got the concentration of flavor and Intensity Um and and they've got the acidity which Is also concentrated as we've discussed So all of those things mean that that Um will enable a really decent age in Time where those flavors will continue To develop Um and continue to concentrate Um and possibly some of the more fresh Or Um tropically flavors start to go more Into that dried fruit characteristics And flavor Um I think we've got Quest time for one

More question maybe Um so How is how is Um climate change going to affect some Of the some of the processes again Really good good question Um I think The short answer I suppose is we don't Really know but as with many wine Producers and Growers all over the world Climate change is a huge topic of Um You know of discussion at the moment and Clearly we've talked about some very Unique climate Um and climatic Um factors here And Yeah we we know that as things change You know so will the the weather and the And the climates of these areas so ice Wine for example Um is going to be I would suspect quite A long time before it becomes impossible In some of these places that are Currently freezing grapes but yeah it's Gonna it's gonna be really interesting And lots of winemakers and girls all Over the world are actively planning for For this sort of Um for these sorts of eventualities and How it is going to affect them and how They can recreate certain um climatic Things because ultimately if botritis

Stops being possible in the likes of Um Tokai for example that's going to be Devastating at least to talk her sweet Sweet wine industry So brilliant thanks thanks for the Questions Um I think that's probably all we've got Time for I think there are a few more Questions in the Q a so we will try to Get to those Um at some point soon Um but in the meantime just to point out There is a poll there please do give us Feedback on how you found the session Um and hopefully we'll look forward to Seeing you all at one of our courses Soon Many thanks bye-bye