Les Grappes magazine with le parisien
The magazine Les
Grappes & Le Parisien
Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

A little history


Discover wines with almost infinite storage capacity. It is in the south of France that you can discover natural sweet wines. These are red or white wines, sweetened. Its name could be confusing because some people think that these wines are more "natural" in their production process. However, these wines are made according to traditional French methods. The only difference is during fermentation. Indeed, a 90° alcohol is added to the grape juice. This is called brandy. When this strong alcohol is added, the wines are called "mutated".


This "mutage" increases the alcohol level. This stops the action of the yeasts and keeps a certain amount of sugar in the wine. It is said to be a "sweet" wine because of its sweetness. After the mutage, the wines are kept away from the air in order to preserve the fruit aromas present. It is said to be natural because no products are added to flavour the wine.


It should be noted that natural sweet wines should be drunk in moderation. Indeed they are much more alcoholic than normal wines. Their alcohol content is between 15° and 21.5°. The invention of natural sweet wines dates back to the 13th century. When the Roussillon native Arnaud de Vilanova succeeded in creating wines that were both rich in alcohol and sugar. The Languedoc-Roussillon region is therefore the cradle of these wines. Today, it still produces more than 95% of the production of natural sweet wines.


Food and wine pairing


This wine goes perfectly with dark chocolate desserts such as chocolate mousse, chocolate cake or chocolate fondant. However, the chocolate must be slightly sweet and strong in cocoa. Natural sweet wines can also be enjoyed as an aperitif, with foie gras, cheese and even spicy Asian cuisine! This wine is best when not served too fresh, it preserves all its precious aromas!


The appellations


Several regions of France produce natural sweet wines. These wines are obtained in Languedoc-Roussillon, more particularly in the Eastern Pyrenees. But also in Corsica and the Rhône Valley. Muscat-de-Rivesaltes and Banyuls are the best known appellations.


Languedoc-Roussillon:


In this region, the AOC Muscat (from Lunel, Frontignan, Mireval and Saint-Jean de Minervois), Clairette du Languedoc, Banyuls, Banyuls Grand Cru, Maury, or Muscat de Rivesaltes are produced.



Rhone Valley :


There are two natural sweet wine appellations in this region: the AOC Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise and Rasteau.



Corsica:


It produces the appellation Muscat du Cap-Corse and Muscat de Corse.


The different grape varieties


Languedoc produces natural sweet wines, mainly from Muscat. Only four grape varieties are used to make the wines: Muscat, Grenache (white, black, grey), Malvasia, Macabeu (for red wines). These grape varieties offer tertiary aromas of light tobacco, leather, coffee and cocoa.

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