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Rating grapes from 1-10
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Hi,

We are trying to rate the sweetness/dryness of the most common grapes from 1-10, so we can make a nice illustration of which grapes that are most sweet and most dry.

So how would you rate the sweetness/dryness of the following grapes (1 being the most sweet and 10 being the most dry):

White wine grapes:
Auxerrois
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Furmint
Gewürtztraminer
Grüner Veltliner
Marsanne
Muscat
Müller-Thurgau
Pinot Blanc
Pinot Gris
Riesling
Rivaner
Rousanne
Sauternes
Sauvignon Blanc
Semillon
Silvaner/Sylvaner
Trebbiano
Vendanges Tardive
Viognier

Red wine grapes:
Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Carigan (Carignan?)
Corvino
Gamay
Grenache
Malbec
Merlot
Mourvèdre/Monastrell
Nebbiolo
Pinot Noir
Primitivo/Zinfandel
Sangiovese
Shiraz/Syrah
Tempranillo

Thanks a lot for your help.

Mads
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 27, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The answer is more complicated than ranking sweet to dry. Even grapes that can be ripened to a high sugar content can usually be fermented until entirely dry.

Sauternes, is an example of sweet wine made from very ripe Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion, but Sauv Blanc is more commonly bone dry.
We generally think of Riesling as being a sweet wine, but it too can be fermented to nearly zero residual sugar.
Vendages Tardive is, like Sauternes, not a grape, but refers to wines made from extremely ripe grapes.

Of the red grapes you mention only Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz (Australian) are (or were) found with significant residual sugar. I say "were", because Pinot Noir, Grenache, US made Syrah, and even Cabernet Sauvignon all show up to commonly now with noticeable sweetness.
 
Posts: 2312 | Registered: Jul 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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And Zin can be and often is quite dry. The fruitiness of Zin wines isn't a quality of the grape itself, it's got to do with the tendency not to ripen evenly and so to avoid green flavors, people picked when everything in the bunch was ripe, which meant some were over ripe.

But as Pape said, you can't simply line up grapes in order of sweetness and imagine that it would be useful. How sweet depends on how ripe and that depends on the weather that year, the climate in general, and when you picked. So any one of the grapes could be first or last on your list.

And then translating the sweetness of the grape into sweetness of the wine is, as described, not straightforward at all. You can ferment dry or leave some sugar. Again, it has far less to do with the grape than the winemaking.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GregT,


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2644 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree that the sweetness depends a lot on the repines of the grapes.

But still it's possible to say that say Sauvignon Blanc is usually more dry than Gewürtztraminer, etc.
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 27, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Chenin Blanc is another good example of what pape du neuf and GregT are saying.
I've had some that are on the sweeter side, and some that are really dry. Hard to generalize.


99% of lawyers give the rest of us a bad name.
 
Posts: 7171 | Location: Baltimore, MD | Registered: Feb 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You guys are so kind!

To support what they are saying, the bottom line is not the inherent sweetness of the grape variety, but what the winemaker does with it.

Do you intentionally ferment the wines totally dry? (I think of Burgundy, here, but really most wines, especially from Europe, tend to fit this mold) Do you leave just a hint of residual sweetness? (I think of many new world pinots here, for example). Do you intentionally leave significant sweetness (most Vouvrays, and Rieslings from anywhere). Note that many regions allow the addition of sugar to the winemaking process, which is either fermented dry (again, Burgundy, but in a poor vintage, for example), or not fermented dry (like the dosage in Champagne). I just had a very sweet ice wine made from Cabernet franc, even though that grape is usually made into a dry red wine.

Note also that there are certain compounds in wine that can trick your taste buds into a perception of "sweet", and alcohol, especially higher alcohol levels, is one such factor.


Stay thirsty my friends.
 
Posts: 3133 | Location: Saginaw, MI | Registered: Mar 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Surprised concords aren't on the list.

it's like "the" grape of this country!


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Posts: 12229 | Location: NYC | Registered: Feb 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree with the statements above, it's a matter of winemaking... but then a Chardonnay usually isn't sweet.
Maybe a "fruity" rating from 1-10 would make a little more sense, ranging from stuff like Chardonnay(1) to Riesling(10)


There is nothing in our intelligence that has not passed by the senses. (Aristoteles)
 
Posts: 1916 | Location: Luxemburg | Registered: Nov 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Having thought more about it, I think you are right that you can't say a certain grape have a certain dryness.

We will have to think a bit harder and thereby get some ideas for our next graphic...
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 27, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Let's try it a different way if you don't mind.

What do you all think of this way of grouping the most important grapes?

- dry white wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot gris
- semidry white wine: Gewürtztraminer, Riesling, Muscat, Müller-Thurgau
- sweet white wine: Chardonnay, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier
- light red wine: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera
- medium red wine: Primitivo/Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot, Sangiovese
- big red wine: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Mourvèdre/Monastrell, Nebbiolo

And grouping som different types of wine like this?

- sparkling wine: Champagne, Cava, Spurmante, Prosecco
- sweet dessert wine:
- dry dessert wine: Madeira, Port, Sherry

Agree? Or should I start all over and read some basic winebooks again?

Thanks,
Mads
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 27, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Are you trying to decide on an order for a tasting? What's the reasoning for classifying the grapes? That might help us decide on an order for you.

To wit, concerning your most recent "order", it looks as if you're attempting to equate mouthfeel and body to sweetness, which is not the case. Sweetness is decided by residual sugars remaining in the finished wine, which differs from winemaker to winemaker, style to style, region to region. You can make any "sweet" juice (high sugar must; degrees Brix) into a "dry" wine, excepting some extreme Botrytized or Eiswein styles wherein sugars are so high fermentation struggles to continue.

What makes you say that Chardonnay is a sweet white wine? Why is Zinfandel a medium red wine? Why is Port a dry dessert wine?

For a quick example on why this is a difficult task, I suggest doing some research on German Rieslings and their classification methods (QbA, Pradikatswein)

This message has been edited. Last edited by: NewOrleansWinosaur,


Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια
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Posts: 289 | Location: New Orleans, LA | Registered: Dec 14, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Mads P.:
should I start all over and read some basic winebooks again?

Thanks,
Mads


Yes.
 
Posts: 3133 | Location: Saginaw, MI | Registered: Mar 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As I said, it can get complicated, and other posters have been explaining why.

Tannins and acidity can both mask sweetness, and if you taste two wines with identical sugar content and sharply different levels of either, you will get a much different impression. It's like the difference between lemons and oranges.
Lemons can have as much sugar as oranges, but are far higher in acidity.
As mentioned, high alcohol adds to a sweet impression.

Forward fruit is often mistaken for sweetness.
Gamay, as an example, tends to have a jammy edge. Back it up with some tannins and good acidity and the sweet impression vanishes.

Viognier is another good grape to illustrate the interplay. It is easy to get Viognier too ripe in California and Washington, and as a result a lot of the early tries came out low in acid, high in alcohol, and loaded with tropical fruit. Even fermented dry they gave a sweet impression. I bet a lot of people quickly concluded that Viognier is a sweet wine.
 
Posts: 2312 | Registered: Jul 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think it is beyond the scope of a few posts here to explain fully what you seem to want to learn. I honestly suggest going to a basic wine book. In all sincerity, I have found the "Wine For Dummies" book (available at most book stores) to be an excellent place to start. If you like maps and photos, I really like to recommend the Wine Atlas by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson as a nice reference that will keep you going for years.

You just need to understand that there are numerous complexities. Take Chardonnay for example, a white wine grape. If you buy Chablis, it is 100% Chardonnay, made in a very dry, crisp "mineral" style. White Burgundy, is generally 100% Chardonnay, also. Note that the most famous white Burgundies are the most expensive white wines in the world. Chardonnay from California and Australia, while also vinified dry, tends to be plumper, fruitier, often buttery or creamy, and often higher in alcohol. These elements may come across to some as a little "sweeter", even if the wine, analytically, has the same low sugar content. Chardonnay is versatile, and some winemakers try to emphasize the lush creamy fruity notes, while others try to emulate the leaner, crisper style of Chablis. If you get a bottle of authentic Champagne, it is likely to have at least 30% Chardonnay in it. If it says "Blanc de Blancs", it will be 100% Chardonnay. Champagne sometimes is made in a sweeter style, but it is usually quite dry ("Brut"). Note that sparkling wine made outside of Champagne may not have any Chardonnay in it at all. Chardonnay is rarely made as a sweet wine, but if you look into hidden corners of the wine world, you might find a late-harvest Chardonnay, or even a Chardonnay "ice-wine", which will be very sweet. These are rare, and they may or may not be any good.

Chardonnay is just an example. Every grape has similar nuances.

Read. Then taste. Then read some more. Then taste some more. It is a never-ending learning process, and that's why we are all here.


Stay thirsty my friends.
 
Posts: 3133 | Location: Saginaw, MI | Registered: Mar 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't see the point of the exercise. It seems to be to pigeon-hole rather than explore.

Instead, I'd suggest doing some tastings that explore the range of styles and expressions a given variety can have.

---

Regarding perception - Clean/fresh wines can smell sweet. But really, that's your brain associating that character with sweetness. You can't smell sweetness. The wine could actually be completely dry. So really, it's an illusion that can carry through to the taste if there's nothing to dispel it.
 
Posts: 1780 | Location: Mountain View, CA | Registered: Oct 18, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Mads P.:
Let's try it a different way if you don't mind.

What do you all think of this way of grouping the most important grapes?

- dry white wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot gris
...
Mads


Let's stop the exercice right there. A Pinot-Gris can range from bone-dry to semi-sweet Baden Ruländer Spätlese to dessert style Alsatian vendanges tardives.
Same for Sauvignon-Blanc that could be bone-dry in the Loire Region and sweetest dessert-style in Sauternes
It just makes no sense.


There is nothing in our intelligence that has not passed by the senses. (Aristoteles)
 
Posts: 1916 | Location: Luxemburg | Registered: Nov 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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+1 on everything the various posters said above.

What do you mean by the most "important" grapes? The grapes with which you are most familiar?

What makes you think that Port is a dry dessert wine? It's a fortified wine, as is sherry and Madeira. Both of the latter come in styles from bone dry to super sweet. In fact, a Manzanilla sherry is one of the driest wines you can get.

Virtually all of the grapes listed, red or white, can be made into sweet or dry wines. Most can probably be made into fortified wines too.

Why would Merlot be a medium red? It's pretty big stuff actually. And Zin can be as well - try a Turley. Malbec from the Loire can be much lighter in weight than some from Mendoza. And I'd try a Loring Pinot Noir before deciding that it was a light grape.

Again, most of it comes down to winemaking and weather and climate.

There are some books and there are blogs that try to "simplify" things and say these grapes are X and those grapes are Y. That's not particularly useful however.

I have no idea what the point of the exercise is, but rather than read books by people who may or may not be offering useful information to YOU, I'd try as much wine as I could from as many areas as I could and then I'd make my own generalizations. And try different price points too - if you taste only wines in the $8 range or $80 range, you won't really get the complete picture.

It's kind of like classifying operas w/out really having heard them. It could be done I suppose, but to what end?


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2644 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you for all the replies. They are very much appreciated.

Considering your replies, I have some ideas you don't like charts like this one:
http://winefolly.com/tutorial/...-food-pairing-chart/

Right?
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: Feb 27, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Mads P.:
Thank you for all the replies. They are very much appreciated.

Considering your replies, I have some ideas you don't like charts like this one:
http://winefolly.com/tutorial/...-food-pairing-chart/

Right?


I'd rather look at THIS


"The hardest thing to attain ... is the appreciation of difference without insisting on superiority" George Saintsbury
 
Posts: 1619 | Location: DC Suburbs, Potomac MD. | Registered: Dec 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Merengue:
quote:
Originally posted by Mads P.:
Thank you for all the replies. They are very much appreciated.

Considering your replies, I have some ideas you don't like charts like this one:
http://winefolly.com/tutorial/...-food-pairing-chart/

Right?


I'd rather look at THIS


I can't read either one. Print is too small.


Stay thirsty my friends.
 
Posts: 3133 | Location: Saginaw, MI | Registered: Mar 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Merengue:
quote:
Originally posted by Mads P.:
Thank you for all the replies. They are very much appreciated.

Considering your replies, I have some ideas you don't like charts like this one:
http://winefolly.com/tutorial/...-food-pairing-chart/

Right?


I'd rather look at THIS


Surprising similarity LOL
I'll take you version, merengue, it costs nothing and, more importantly, it makes sense.


There is nothing in our intelligence that has not passed by the senses. (Aristoteles)
 
Posts: 1916 | Location: Luxemburg | Registered: Nov 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Mads P.:
Thank you for all the replies. They are very much appreciated.

Considering your replies, I have some ideas you don't like charts like this one:
http://winefolly.com/tutorial/...-food-pairing-chart/

Right?


Right. I applaud your efforts but liking wine doesn't necessarily qualify one to write about it. I don't know who made the chart but it is overly simplistic. Keep learning and then try doing a chart in a few years.

Problem with charts like that is that they imply there's some kind of rule of thumb and really there isn't. They have Tempranillo as a medium-bodied grape, which makes it pretty clear there's very limited, if any, familiarity with that grape, and Zin as a big red whereas most of the "bigness" comes from the winemaking, not the tannins, which are usually what makes a grape "big", and if Merlot is a medium bodied grape, I'm thinking the taster only has had a few bad ones from southern CA because most people tasting blind won't be able to distinguish it from Cab Sauv.

Dessert I don't know about but Tokaji-aszu is better alone than it is with any dessert, although last Saturday I served it with an almond tart and that worked out OK.

Looking thru the site to learn about the various grapes, I find that the two extremes for red grapes are Pinot Noir and Syrah! Then between them Merlot and Grenache are pretty much similar, about half way between, and Cab is about 3/4 over to Syrah, which is apparently the darkest, boldest, biggest, baddest red grape.

Again, the idea is nice, but the writer needs to become familiar with wine before teaching about it.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GregT,


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2644 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If the objective is to attempt to classify wines based on sweetness, it seems to me that a geographic categorization is a better way to do it rather than the varietal.

For example, a Sauternes, a white Bordeaux, a California "Fume Blanc", and a white Marlborough from New Zealand all are made from Sauvignon Blanc (plus Semillon in the case of the French), but depending on the region it ranges from very sweet in the case of the Sauternes to mouthpuckering dry in the case of the Marlborough.

In the same vein, a Riesling is generally bone dry in the Alsace, but can be sweet in the case of a German TBA.

Although neither is a true statement in the strictest sense, it's probably more accurate to state that wines are similar in sweetness within a specific region, rather than stating that wines made from the same grape are similar in sweetness.
 
Posts: 35 | Location: Virginia, Seoul, Singapore | Registered: Feb 21, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This thread threatens to make the world dumber than it already is. Smack

I commend the efforts of those who are trying (apparently in vain) to prevent that from happening.
 
Posts: 1869 | Location: L.A. | Registered: Dec 04, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Brashley:
This thread threatens to make the world dumber than it already is. Smack


You're being too kind.


Just one more sip.
 
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