Dessert wines are sweet wines that are usually served with dessert. There is no simple definition of dessert wine. In the UK, dessert wine is considered any sweet wine that is consumed with one meal, as opposed to white fortified wines (Fino and Amontilado-sherry grapes) that are consumed before a meal, and red fortified wines (Porto and Madeira) which are consumed after the meal. Thus, most fortified wines are considered different from dessert wines, but some of the less fortified white wines, such as Pedro Jimenez (a type of sherry grape) and Muscat from Bome-de-Venice, are considered honorary dessert wines In contrast, in the USA, dessert wine is legally defined as any wine with over 14% alcohol by quantity, which includes all fortified wines and as a result it is taxed higher. This dates back to the time when the USA’s wine industry only made dessert wines with fortification, but such a classification is obsolete now that modern yeast and viticulture can produce dry wines with over 15% of alcohol without fortification, while German dessert wines can contain half that amount of alcohol.
Dessert wine producers want to produce wines that contain high levels of both sugar and alcohol, even though the alcohol is made from sugar. There are several ways to increase sugar levels in finished wine:
• growing grapes so that there is a natural sugar to be separated for both sweetness and alcohol;
• before fermentation as much sugar as honey (Chaptalization);
• after fermentation as unfermented grape juice (Süssreserve);
• adding alcohol (usually fruit brandy) before fermenting the sugar, this is called boosting;
• removing the water to thicken the sugar;
• In hot climates, by air-drying of the grapes to make wine from raisins;
•In cold climates, by freezing a certain amount of water to make ice wine;
• In humid climates, a fungal infection “Botrytis cinerea” is used to dry the grapes with rot.