What is in a Glass of Wine?: Sugar & Aromatic Components

What is in a Glass of Wine serves as a foundation for learning about the chemical components of wine: This post is about sugar and aromatic components in wine but there are also tannins, alcohol and acids… Though water remains the most abundant.

These components, called “Structural Components”, help define the taste of wine, and they are very helpful in understanding the wide variety of aromas, flavors, tastes and textures of wine. This series of posts explains how these components appear in wine and how they affect the taste, with special attention on the different aspects that can make them change or evolve.

Here it comes: What is in a Glass of Wine? (IV): Sugar & Aromatic Components


Among the 3% of other components of wine, in this video we take a look at sugar and aromatic components.

The amount of sugar in wine is responsible for the sweetness of the wine, but it also acts as a moderator in high acid wines, balancing them. A wine with high acidity benefits from a high amount of sugar, like the tasty sensation we get from a lemonade that is both high in acid and sugar. Sugar is a main component in grapes and it is transformed into alcohol during the fermentation process that converts must into wine. Grapes contain different types of sugar and these sugars are more or less easily transformed into alcohol, so, it may happen, that after the fermentation process is ended, some sugar remains in the resulting wine. This not-transformed-into-alcohol sugar is called “residual sugar” and depending on the amount of it or its type, wine is more or less sweet.

Labeling rules in Europe require that a wine with at least 4.5% of residual sugar is labeled as “sweet”… But the truth is the most famous sweet wines of the world have much more sugar than this: Port has 8%, Sauternes has around 15%, Rieslings can go to 30% and Sherry can have over 40%. There aren’t rules about how much sugar wine can contain, but there is a generally accepted scale that defines the sweetness:

  • Dry wines are less than 0.5%
  • Off-dry wines are between 0.6% and 1.9%
  • Semi-sweet wines are between 2% and 6%
  • Sweet wines are over 6%.

If you want to compare it, a regular coke has around 11%.

The aromatic components of wine provide the fruitiness, or the tendency of wine to develop fruit-like aromas and flavors. These are chemical substances that come from:

  • The grape variety, called primary aromas. They are the typical fruit, floral or herbal aromas.
  • The fermentation process, called secondary aromas. They are related to the yeast activity, like aromas of butter, dough or cheese.
  • The aging in bottle and/or barrel, called tertiary aromas or “bouquet”, like aromas or spices, oak, leather, etc.

⇒ See related posts:

Last note: I’ve separated this post in 4 parts, so they are easy to manage. They are:

What is in a glass of wine: Sugar & Aromatic Components

Sugar and aromatic components in What VINO Learning about wine

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