So what exactly does the extra sugar do to a wine? It pumps up the aromas and softens tannins, but mostly it negates the effect of a grape’s natural acidity, giving the wine a creamier texture. This is what attracts most people to these types of wines.
I was chatting recently with Marcus Notaro, winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar, about the “sugar creep,” about how residual sugar levels are inching up as other wineries have taken notice of how well these wines sell. He refuses to do it. We eventually got on the subject of how much I like some California merlot and I said that basically, adding sugar to cabernet sauvignon is turning the wine into a merlot.