Types of Sugar
Bar Sugar: This sugar's crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for sweetening finished wine because it dissolves easily. It is also called "superfine" or "ultrafine" sugar. In England, a sugar very similar to bar sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged. Commercially, it can be purchased as "Baker's Sugar."
Barbados Sugar: A British specialty brown sugar, very dark brown, with a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than "regular" brown sugar. Also know as Muscovado Sugar.
Brown Sugar: Sugar crystals coated in a molasses syrup with natural flavor and color. Many sugar refiners produce borwn sugar by boiling a special molasses syrup until brown sugar crystals form. A centrifuge spins the crystals dry. Some of the syrup remains, giving the sugar its brown color and molasses flavor. Other manufacturers produce brown sugar by blending a special molasses syrup with white sugar crystals. Dark brown sugar has more color and a stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Lighter brown sugars are more commonly used in winemaking than darker ones, as the richer molasses flavors in the darker sugar tend to mask the bases flavors of the wine, but both have their place.
Corn Syrup: This is basically glucose and water, but may contain some maltose or other sugars. Common, grocery store products may have vanilla added, and/or preservatives that could affect fermentation. Read the label.
Demerara Sugar: A light brown sugar with large golden crystals which are slightly sticky. While this sugar is often expensive, it has a unique, unmatched flavor.
Dextrose: An isomer form (the invert) of glucose, actually called dextroglucose (D-glucose) with a right- axis polarization (a.k.a. "right-handed glucose") and found naturally in sweet fruits and honey.
Fructose: One of two simple (reducing) fermentable sugars in grapes and other fruit, the other being glucose. Isolated, fructose is approximately twice as sweet as glucose. In wine, a higher fructose concentration will result in a heightened sweetness threshold.
Galactose: An optical isomer form of glucose. Sometimes called lactose, although it is not lactose proper. Not desired as a residual sugar in wine as it oxidizes to form mucic acid.
Glucose: One of two simple fermentable sugars in grapes and other fruit, the other being fructose. Glucose is approximately half as sweet as fructose. An isomer form of glucose, dextrose, is considered to be glucose
Honey: Honeys vary widely, but generally are a complex mixture of right-axis glucose (dextrose -- about 30%), left-axis fructose (levulose -- about 38 to 40%), maltose (about 7%) and a surprising number of other sugars (3 to 5% -- see section below, Sugars and Honey) in water with proteins, minerals, pollens, bee parts, and other solids interspersed. Honey purity and quality also varies widely, as do the "varieties" of honey. "Variety" is attributed to the predominate flower the bees visited while making the honey (such as clover, orange, wildflower, raspberry, sage, heather, etc.).
Invert Sugar: The product of the hydrolysis of sucrose, which is glucose and fructose. Dextrose (an isomer of glucose) and levulose (an isomer of fructose) are obtained by the inversion of sucrose, and hence called invert sugar. Yeast convert invert sugar more rapidly than sucrose, such as simple cane sugar, because they do not have to break the sucrose down into glucose and fructose themselves. Invert sugar can be made by dissolving two parts sugar into one part water, adding two teaspoons lemon juice per pound of sugar, bringing this almost to a boil, and holding it there for 30 minutes (NOT allowing it to boil). If not to be used immediately upon cooling, this can be poured into a sealable jar, sealed and cooled in the refrigerator. Invert sugar should NOT be used to sweeten finished wine as it will encourage refermentation.
Jaggery: Raw or semi-refined palm sugar, made in the East Indies by evaporating the fresh juice of several kinds of palm trees, but specifically that of the palmyra.
Lactose: A sugar comprising one glucose molecule linked to a galactose molecule and found only in milk. It has a slightly sweet taste and is much less soluble in water than most other sugars. The human body breaks it down into galactose and glucose. Because it is not ordinarily fermentable until separated into its component sugars, it can be used to boost residual sweetness.
Levulose: An isomer form (the invert) of fructose, with a left-axis polarization (a.k.a. "left-handed fructose") and found naturally in sweet fruits and honey.
Maltose: A crystalline sugar formed from starch (specifically malt) and the amylolytic ferment of saliva and pancreatic juice. It consists of two linked glucose molecules and is completely fermentable. It resembles dextrose, but rotates the plane of polarized light further to the right and possesses a lower cupric oxide reducing power.
Molasses: The filtered residue of sugar refinement after the cyrstalized portion has been removed. "Light molasses" is roughly 90% sugar, while "blackstrap molasses" is only 50% sugar and 50% refinement residue. It may have sulfur compounds added to sterilize and stabilize it. This makes it generally undesirable as a sugar for wine, as it could encourage the formation of hydrogen sulfide. It is similar to treacle.
Muscovado Sugar: A British specialty brown sugar, very dark brown, with a particularly strong molasses flavor. The crystals are slightly coarser and stickier in texture than "regular" brown sugar. Also know as Barbados Sugar.
Piloncillo: Mexican brown sugar, which is semi-refined and granulated. It is sometimes sold in solid cone-shaped cakes, where the sugar is scraped off the cake as needed. The taste is quite different than American brown sugar, which is actually refined sugar to which molasses has been added.
Raffinose: A complex sugar (trisaccharide) found primarily in grains, legumes and some vegetables. It has little value in winemaking and is only slightly sweet.
Raw Sugar: Crystalline sugar obtained from the evaporation of cane, beet, maple, or some other syrup. Raw cane sugar is sold as "Sucanat." Raw beet sugar is said to be unsavory. Raw sugar should not be equated with the product "Sugar in the Raw."
Residual Sugar: The amount of sugar, both fermentable and unfermentable, left in a wine after fermentation is complete or permanently halted by stabilization. Fermentation is complete when either all the fermentable sugar has been converted by the yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide as byproducts or when the concentration of alcohol produced reaches a level that is toxic to the yeast and they die. Fermentation is permanently halted by stabilization through several means involving intervention by man.
Rock Candy: Large sucrose crystals, usually clear but may be tinted with flavorings, Some people drop a piece of rock candy in the wine bottle before filling it, where it slowly dissolves and sweetens the wine.
Stachyose: A complex sugar (tertasaccharide) found in a few grains, most legumes and some vegetables. It has little value in winemaking and is less sweet than raffinose.
Sucrose: A natural, crystalline disaccharide found in grapes, most fruit and many plants. This is the type of refined sugar obtained from sugar cane, sugar beets and other sources which, when added to a must or juice to make up for deficiencies in natural sugar, must be hydrolyzed (inverted) into Fructose and Glucose by acids and enzymes in the yeast before it can be used as fuel for fermentation.
Superfine Sugar: This sugar's crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for sweetening finished wine because it dissolves easily. It is also called "bar" or "ultrafine" sugar. In England, a sugar very similar to superfine sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged. Commercially, it can be purchased as "Baker's Sugar."
Treacle: The inverted sugar made from the residue of refinement and very similar in taste to molasses, although treacle is generally darker. There is even a "black treacle" with roughly the same taste as "blackstrap molasses." If you like the taste, it is more useful in winemaking than molasses.
Turbinado Sugar: A raw sugar which has been partially processed, removing some of the surface molasses. It is a blond color with a mild brown sugar flavor that enhances some wine bases as no other sugar can.
Ultrafine Sugar: This sugar's crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated sugar. It is ideal for sweetening finished wine because it dissolves easily. It is also called "bar" or "superfine" sugar. In England, a sugar very similar to ultrafine sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged. Commercially, it can be purchased as "Baker's Sugar."