We have probably all experienced a bottle of wine from Alsace that did not go well with the food we served. The reason being, for the most part, that the wine was sweeter than we had expected. This is a problem that producers in Alsace have long been aware of. Some argue that a little residual sugar in the wine is not a problem if the acidity is high. This is true to some extent, but not completely.
It used to be easier. Riesling from Alsace was dry. Riesling from Germany was sweet. Today everything has changed and this rule no longer applies. Without knowing the producer or the vintage, it is often a challenge to buy Alsace wines. And this is true not only for Riesling. Pinot gris has almost invariably some residual sugar. But how much? Gewürztraminer can be both bone dry and semi-sweet.
The producers in Alsace now seem to realize that consumer’s uncertainty as to how dry or sweet the wine is should be taken seriously. Some producers already indicate the level of sweetness on the label. Often they use a scale from one to ten, or from one to five, where one indicates a totally dry wine and the 5 and 10 respectively a very sweet wine.
The growers in Alsace are now, according to La Vigne, going to agree on a system of analysis that categorizes wines by sweetness. The aim is to have this system eventually written into the regulations that apply to the appellation Alsace.
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