My thanks to the folk at Wine Folly:
The sugar in wine is called “Residual Sugar” or RS.
That means the sugar in wine is what remains after grapes have gone through the winemaking process. Grapes contain fruit sugars (fructose and glucose) and the residual sugar is what’s left after yeast has chomped on those sugars.
Dry vs. Sweet Wine
During winemaking, yeast eats up sugar and makes ethanol (alcohol) as a by-product. When the yeast is able to eat up all the sugar the result is a dry wine – higher in alcohol content and low in sugar. When the yeast is stopped by a winemaker (often by rapid chilling) sugar remains and alcohol is lower.
This is why many sweet wines have less alcohol than dry wines! A great example of this is German Riesling, which has about 8–9% alcohol by volume (ABV) if it’s sweet and 10–11% ABV when it’s dry.
Read more here.
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