Is appassimento wine dry or sweet?

Answered by Andrew Fritz

Appassimento can be either dry or sweet, depending on how the winemaker chooses to handle the partially dried grapes during the winemaking process. The appassimento method itself involves allowing the grapes to naturally partially dehydrate, which increases the concentration of sugars, colors, aromas, and flavors in the grapes.

When making dry appassimento wine, the winemaker will typically ferment the partially dried grapes until all or most of the residual sugar is converted into . This results in a wine that has a higher concentration of flavors and aromas, but is not sweet in taste. The drying process can help to intensify the fruit flavors and add complexity to the wine, creating a rich and full-bodied profile.

On the other hand, if the winemaker wants to produce a sweet appassimento wine, they may choose to stop the fermentation process before all the sugars are converted into alcohol. This leaves some residual sugar in the wine, resulting in a sweeter taste. The higher concentration of sugars from the partially dried grapes contributes to the sweetness of the wine, along with the intensified flavors and aromas.

It's important to note that not all appassimento wines are sweet. Some winemakers may use the appassimento method to produce dry red wines with enhanced characteristics, while others may use it to create sweet dessert wines or fortified wines. The choice of the winemaker and the specific grapes used in the appassimento process will ultimately determine the sweetness level of the final wine.

In my personal experience as a sommelier, I have tasted both dry and sweet appassimento wines. The dry versions often exhibit a deep and concentrated flavor profile, with notes of dried fruits, spices, and a velvety texture. These wines pair well with hearty dishes like roasted meats or aged cheeses. On the other hand, the sweet appassimento wines can be lusciously sweet, with flavors of ripe berries, caramel, and honey. These wines are often enjoyed on their own or paired with desserts like chocolate or fruit-based pastries.

Whether appassimento wine is dry or sweet depends on the winemaker's intentions and the style they want to achieve. The appassimento method itself provides a means to enhance the concentration of flavors and sugars in the grapes, allowing for the production of both dry and sweet wines with unique characteristics.