The lowdown on residual sugar
Before we start, a disclaimer: Dessert wines are different because they’re specifically made to be sweet—hence, the name. Table wines, on the other hand, may contain sugar because they’re made to be versatile, suitable for aperitifs or main dishes.
Many Loire-region Chenins Blancs or German Rieslings have long contained a certain amount of sugar that winemakers opt to leave in post-vinification. That sugar helps balance the pronounced acidity inherent to these types of cépages, and provides wines with body and texture.
2) Modern winemaking techniques
Due to advances in oenology, sugar can be added after vinification, mainly through the use of concentrated musts. Simply put, these are grape concentrates that adjust a wine’s profile.
Just a pinch
Should wine aficionados be alarmed? The vast majority of table wines are dry, containing less than 4 grams of sugar per litre—a mere half-gram of sugar per glass. Even if a red wine has what’s considered to be an elevated amount of sugar (some 16 grams per litre), that only equates to 2 grams of sugar per standard 125-mL wineglass. The average single sugar packet added to coffee contains 5 grams of sugar, twice the amount of sugar in even the sweetest table wines. A 330-mL soft-drink can has more than 30 grams of sugar as does a small iced cappucccino from fast food chain. The latter contains 15 times, or even 30 times the amount of sugar that a glass of wine contains.