Wine Words Demystified: Residual Sugar

You know the deal, the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus – Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s phrase is Residual Sugar

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

 Natural grape sugar that remains in wine because it has not been converted into ALCOHOL during FERMENTATION.  Wines that taste dry can nonetheless have a tiny amount of residual sugar in them.  Winemakers often leave small amounts of sugar in wine to make it seem rounder and more appealing (sweetness has a slight fat feeling to it).  Wine producers are not required to list residual sugar contents on labels.  

In other words, residual sugar (sometimes abbreviated as “RS”) is a measure of how sweet a wine is.  The higher amount of residual sugar that remains in a wine after fermentation, the sweeter the wine, and vice-versa.  Residual sugar is usually measured in grams per litre (g/l, or g/L), or us Americans as a percent.  To give you some context, even the driest wines contain at least 1 g/L, while any wine with over 45 g/L would be considered sweet.
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