When thinking about Wine elaboration, let’s keep in mind that every country has its own regulation since every country has its own climate. While in countries like Argentina, the U.S. or Spain it is forbidden to add sugar during the wine elaboration (chaptalization), there are many countries in where you will be able to add sugar without any problems (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and some parts of France to name a few).
The reason lays in the sun. The more sun the grape receives, the more sugar it concentrates. The more sugar it concentrates, the more alcoholic the wine is. Argentina, for example, has a 14.3 % alcohol content average, while countries like France are around 12%. Argentina’s most important wine regions get 300 days of sun every year approximately, becoming one of the most sunny Wine regions in the world.
What about sweet wines then? You might ask. Well, when I say that sugar is not allow in wines, I’m talking about regular wines. Sweet wines are considered in a different category of wines and there are many ways of making them. One of the most popular ones is late harvest, in where every grape is dehydrated by the sun, and so the amount of sugar per litter of water is much higher now. When fermenting, sugar becomes alcohol and water stays as water. So in this case you might reach 16% or even 19% of alcohol content (that means that for every 100 litters of water you obtain 19 litters of alcohol) and you’ll still have sugar remaining in the tanks. That remaining sugar is the sweetness you’ll fell later on, when drinking late harvest wines.
Other ways of getting sweet wines are Noble Rot (a fungus intentionally provoked in grapes, proper of Sauternes wines) and Ice Wine (grape freezing). Fortified wines are sweet, but this sugar is artificial and not natural. Port is considered a fortified wine because during the fermentation a great deal of alcohol is added, interrupting the fermentation and leaving a lot of sugar unfermented, which translates into a sweet and yet alcoholic wine.
To finish I would recommend stopping by a wine shop on the way back home, buying 2 or 3 kinds of sweet wines and try them all (the great thing about this kinds of wines is that an open bottle could last about 20 days because high alcohol is an excellent preservative). Do that and enjoy the pleasure of being at home, sweet home, drinking a good bottle of wine, sweet wine.