Does My Wine Have Sugar?

Sugar: every dieter’s nightmare. Sugar is naturally found in all carbohydrates, but what about wine? What sugars exist? How much? And how do we know for sure?

The Basics

Sugars are what make wine possible. Like all fruit, grapes are considered to be a carbohydrate and, therefore, contain sugar – sucrose to be exact. During the ripening process, sucrose is broken down into two predominant sugars: glucose and fructose.

Glucose and fructose are then further converted in primary fermentation to create the alcohol in your glass of wine. The amount of glucose and fructose (we call the combination residual sugar) are directly correlated to the amount of alcohol: the lower the initial sugar level, the lower the alcohol.

In order to have our Untamed wines consistently at 13.50% alcohol, we target our grapes to be harvested around 23-24 brix (sugar measurement). There are slight differences depending on the history of the vineyard, winemaking practices, and desired outcome of the wine, but theoretically, this is the right sugar to alcohol conversion rate which we call potential alcohol.

Dry Wine

A standard cola has 104.2 g/L of residual sugar. How do you think our wines compare?

All of our still wines at Untamed are considered to be dry, meaning that the residual sugar levels are below 2.0 g/L of glucose and fructose. Actually, all of our red wines are below 0.5 g/L, almost no measurable residual sugar.

Sugar Testing

We test for residual sugar in the wine during our entire winemaking practice.

During primary fermentation, we use a portable device called a density meter. This device allows us to test sugars directly from the tank, giving us a brix reading.

Density Meter pictured above.

Once the brix reaches below 0.0, we test specifically for glucose fructose. We do this by an enzymatic test using spectrophotometry. Interested in this process? See our last Sipping on Science article to learn more about this test.

Glucose and fructose are continually checked until they reach below 2.0 g/L. We also check for these residual sugars one final time before bottling for a final analysis.

Is Wine Diet Friendly?

We’re no nutritionists, but we can tell you that our dry wines have very minimal sugar. Looking for a great wine to pair with your salad? Try our 2021 Steen (Chenin Blanc).

Next time on Sipping on Science

Our wines may not have sugar, but what about sulfur? Does sulfur cause my headaches? Do all wines have sulfur and how much?