Don’t Trust ‘Sugar-Free’ Wine – The Takeout
The worst part about this time of year is the annual January push to make everything seem as “healthy” as possible. Not only does this feed into toxic diet culture, but our products end up getting labeled with flashy but misleading claims. One such product that’s becoming more and more prominent is “sugar-free” or “low-sugar” wine. As great as that might sound in theory, we’re here to assure you that you can’t have wine at all without sugar.
How sugar gets into wine
Grapes, the main ingredient in wine, are packed with natural sugars. So sugar is present from the jump, but it’s also a necessary ingredient for creating the alcohol content of wine. Basic fermentation requires yeast and sugar—the yeast, a living microorganism, essentially eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol and CO2. (Fun fact: champagne was actually created via a fermentation accident that produced excess CO2, hence the bubbles.) What’s left is residual sugar, the amount of which determines whether you’re sipping on a more dry or sweet wine. But even in the driest wines, the sugar is still there.
Added sugars and artificial sweeteners can also make their way into wine, explains VinePair. One process is called chaptalization, which is when winemakers add more sugar during the fermentation process to give the end product a higher alcohol concentration or to spur a second fermentation that creates more CO2, as in sparkling wines. It’s also common in colder wine climates, like Oregon, where grapes can’t always ripen to contain the ideal amount of sugar.
Adding any other sugar after the fermentation process or in warm weather climates is mostly illegal, VinePair explains, with the one major exception being grape concentrate. Mega Purple is one such concentrate used in red wines to add a deeper ruby hue as well as …….
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