Choosing a wine to try can seem difficult, especially if you are new to the world of wine. The choices are endless, from reds and whites to still and sparkling wines. Attending a wine tasting OKC is an excellent way to introduce yourself to various wines to help find your favorites. You will also learn how to appreciate the qualities of different wines, such as their dryness or sweetness.
Sweet vs. Dry Wines: What’s the Difference?
Wines are considered dry when they have less than 1 percent residual sugar. Oklahoma wines with less than 0.5 percent residual sugar are considered “bone dry,” having been completely stripped of their residual sugar. The taste buds hardly detect the minimal amount of sugar in bone-dry wines. On the contrary, sweet wines have residual sugar amounts above 20 percent. Off-dry wines are considered somewhere in between.
How Does Fermentation Affect a Wine’s Sweetness?
The primary factor determining whether made in Oklahoma wine is sweet or dry is the amount of residual sugar left behind during fermentation. The sugars begin to accumulate in the grape while it is still on the vine, especially in warmer climates. The riper the grape, the more sugar that it accumulates.
Once the grapes are harvested and crushed into juice, active yeast is added to begin fermentation. During this process, the yeast eats the natural sugars to produce alcohol. If the wine does not ferment for very long, the yeast cannot consume and convert the sugars into alcohol, resulting in a sweet wine. The longer the wine ferments, the more sugar the yeast consumes, resulting in a drier wine with higher alcohol content.
Other Factors That Impact the Sweetness of Made in Oklahoma Wine
Although fermentation is the main factor that impacts the sweetness of the wine, the wine’s acidity, tannin, and alcohol levels also play a significant role.
Acidity refers to the crisp, tart citrus flavors that you taste in the wine. High acidity can make a wine drier. Immature grapes and those grown in cooler climates tend to produce more acidic wines.
People often get tannins confused with acidity. Instead of a specific flavor, tannins impact the texture of Oklahoma wines. Tannins come from grape seeds and skins. As a group of phenolic compounds, tannins bind to the proteins in saliva, resulting in a dry feeling in your mouth. The more tannins, the drier the wine will be.
Going back to the fermentation process, winemakers use active yeast to convert sugars into alcohol. If a wine has a higher alcohol content, fewer sugars are present, making the wine drier.
Try Sweet and Dry Wines at a Local Winery Near You
Discovering the perfect wine requires some exploration to determine what you like. At the Oklahoma Grape Industry Council, we have over 60 members statewide ready to serve you delicious local wines and provide exceptional experiences. For more information about our organization or to find a wine tasting OKC near you, please reach out to us.