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Discovering Sweet Sauternes Wines

Understanding the Sweetness and Complexity of Sweet Sauternes Wines

Sweet Sauternes wines are renowned for their unique sweetness, complexity and depth of flavor. The sweetness in these wines comes from the high sugar content of the grapes used in their production, which is a result of the Botrytis cinerea fungus, also known as the 'noble rot'. The fungus attacks the grapes, causing them to dry out and concentrate the sugar. This process, known as 'raisining', is what gives Sauternes wines their characteristic sweetness.

In addition to sweetness, Sauternes wines are also known for their complex flavor profile. They often have notes of honey, apricot, peach, and citrus fruits, as well as a distinct minerality. The high acidity in these wines helps to balance out the sweetness and adds to their complexity. The aging process also plays a crucial role in the development of the wine's flavor. Sauternes wines are typically aged in oak barrels, which impart additional flavors and aromas such as vanilla and spice.

The sweetness of Sauternes wines is usually measured using a scale called Baumé, which ranges from 0 to 25. The higher the Baumé reading, the sweeter the wine. Sauternes wines generally have a Baumé reading of between 15 and 25, which puts them in the 'sweet' to 'very sweet' category.

It's important to note that the sweetness in Sauternes wines doesn't necessarily make them dessert wines. While they do pair well with sweet desserts, they also go well with savory dishes such as foie gras, blue cheese, and roasted meats. The high acidity in the wine helps to cut through the richness of these dishes and enhance their flavors.

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History and Production of Sweet Sauternes Wines

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Pairing Sweet Sauternes Wines with Food

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