Check out the new, mobile-friendly WineSpectator.com!
Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Does the sugar in sweet wine diminish as it ages? I tasted two colheita Ports recently, a 1980 and a 1985, and the 1985 seemed sweeter than the 1980.
—Koorosh K., Renton, Wash.
No, it doesn’t. The amount of residual sugar (and alcohol) in a wine is determined during the fermentation process, when the sugar is converted to alcohol. One the fermentation finishes or is stopped, these levels remain constant.
In your case, I’m guessing that either one vintage was always sweeter than the other, or that the way the sweet notes are perceived has been altered by the wine’s aging. As primary notes fade and secondary flavors become more prominent, the appearance of sweetness in the wines can move forward or fade into the background.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered