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A Beginner’s Guide to Sweet Red Wines – Part One

A Beginner’s Guide to Sweet Red Wines – Part One

What is sweet red wine anyway? Do not get disappointed when you find out it is not hot spiced wine Brothers of the Watch drink in the Game of Thrones. Neither is it a Strongwine from Dorne to the best of our knowledge.

One is mulled wine spiced with cloves and nutmeg, and boiled with a generous amount of sugar; and the other is supposed to be fortified wine, with the addition of brandy or some other spirit. 

Not that anybody should have anything against those, as they sure serve their purpose. For example, since ethanol is a natural antiseptic, fortified wines were invented to preserve sweet reds from Portugal during transportation. Speaking of mulled wine, it is sort of self-explanatory when the winter temperatures drop, and your fingers and guts are getting warmer with every sip.

Also, we have plenty of variants of aromatized and other special wines in Croatia. But, we are talking about sweet red wine, and to understand what sweet red wine is, let’s begin with wine.

If we think of wine as fermented grape juice, the essential transformation begins naturally with converting the sugar from the grapes into alcohol. You are absolutely right – the more sugar in the grape, the more alcohol in the wine.

This simplified process, however, works up to a certain point. If the grape juice is too sweet, it will not convert into alcohol beyond that point. All residual sugar will remain unfermented and ready to sweeten your life.  

This is why many winemakers are trying to make sweet wines using nothing but grapes. Because good grapes need no additions. They are already full of their natural sugar.

There are many ways to grow healthy grapes with high sugar levels and many more ways to transform them into sweet wines. Types of sweet red wine deserve a special article so that topic will be addressed in the second part.  

Having that in mind, feel free to investigate the subject more thoroughly through some samples conveniently available at our store.

Nenad Trifunovic
Professional Wine drinker ;)

Moderator of a series of wine workshops and educator of wine course (Wine Reading), promoter of table culture and wine writer, most famous as an author of the most influential Croatian wine blog (

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