We have all heard the terms table, dessert and sparkling wines in reference to different wines before. Some of us understand the differences between each but others just let these ‘jargons’ fly over our heads. The differences between each will be explained. Each is term refers to different types of wine.
Table wines are usually referred to as light wines because they contain a lower amount of alcohol than others. They must contain no greater than 14% of alcohol by law in the United States of America and Europe. So if you are particular about the amount of alcohol you are consuming and believe less is more then you have been consciously or unconsciously drinking table wines. Wines in time long past used to contain at most 14% alcohol. Due to the different climates in which grapes are grown now, they have different levels of sugar and hence will end up having lower or higher levels of alcohol after the fermentation process. They are also non-bubbly. So by law if a wine contains 14% or less alcohol and is not bubbly then it is a table wine.
Wines that contain more than 14% alcohol are dessert wines. The reason for this can be that the grapes used have a very high concentration of sugar in them or alcohol is added during or after fermentation. The latter reason has become very popular within certain regions. These wines are sweet and dark and are usually consumed after dinner with dessert. Hence the term ‘dessert wine’ was given to them in the U.S. In Europe they are called ‘liqueur wines’.
Sparkling wines are given their name because they contain bubbles and appear to sparkle. Bubbles form within the grape juice when carbon dioxide is released during fermentation. The bubbles are then trapped within the juice while this is happening so the end result is sparkling wine. The most famous sparkling wine is champagne. Champagne was first produced in a region in France called Champagne. However, now all or most regions in the world create their own champagnes. The universal official term for wines with bubbles or champagnes is sparkling wines.