Wine is more than a drink. It is a culture from which multiple terms and philosophies have sprung. Every term assigned to a bottle of wine has a meaning specific to its qualities and features. Everything from the flavor, to vintage, to the vineyard, is subject to specialized names and terms that better describe the origin and profile of a wine.
Rather than simply relying on the same list of adjectives we use for more mundane beverages. One such term is “jammy.” However, non-connoisseurs might be unaware of the precise meaning of this term about bottles of wine.
The knowledge that wine has its terminology makes understanding them a key component of beginning your journey. With this article, we hope to clarify, if you will pardon the pun, what “jammy” means and why it should matter.
What Does “Jammy” Mean?
The term “jammy” is an adjective for wine that you will likely not be hearing very often. When it comes to wine, the term “jammy” refers to a flavor and texture profile that is not very appealing to most aficionados. In this instance, the term is fairly similar to what the word sounds like it would mean.
A “jammy” wine is a wine that has an extremely sweet flavor profile by making use of ripe berries to increase the level of sugar. As a result, you end up with a fruity wine ideal for those who prefer sweet drinks.
So, the most basic definition of a “jammy” wine is that it is sweet and almost syrupy. Given most wine enthusiasts’ preference for more traditionally flavored wines, jammy bottles are not a popular choice. However, if you have more of a sweet tooth, it might be an excellent tool for your start into the world of wines. However, some people are simply averse to wine in general.
While these wines are described as just sweet wines with an unusual profile, there is yet more to understand about them. Now that we know what a “jammy” wine means, you might wonder about the particulars of its creation. Especially since it probably takes a fair bit of effort to change the flavor of wine so heavily.
How is “Jammy” Wine Made?
As we mentioned before, jammy wines are made using extremely ripened berries and grapes to produce a sweeter flavor. This flavor is cultivated because the ripened fruit has a higher sugar content than you would find in those grapes used in more tart and traditional wines.
That said, this sugar concentration also directly clashes with the traditional acidity found in more common bottles of wine. Acid is the great equalizer insofar as wine is concerned. However, using these ripe grapes also diminishes the level of acid found in the final product.
Traditionally, the acid balances the flavor of wine and makes it more enjoyable for those who prefer classic wine. It also makes wines a more malleable beverage for certain meals since many wines can effectively pair with certain kinds of food. The sugar level, or brix, in wine is carefully monitored to ensure that everything remains balanced.
The brix allows winemakers to monitor the sugar levels in their product and maintain the quality of the product their customers want. A typical red grape will have about 25 brix, with the level changing depending on when the grape itself is picked. However, most winemakers aim to pick their grapes when they have between 23 to 24 brix of sugar. When the grape contains between 26 to 30 brix of sugar, its sweet flavor becomes a component of the wine they produce.
This concentration, unfortunately, requires additional acidic compounds to be added to maintain the balance of jammy wines. When the acidity of sweet wines goes down, the pH of the juice in the grapes goes up. When this happens, the wine has a greater chance of spoiling. The most commonly used additive for this purpose is tartaric acid. Tartaric acid can be added to wines to lower the pH of the wine and restore acidity.
Acid restoration is not the sole additive found in jammy wines, however. One of the most common things added to sweet wines is something you do not generally want to see in alcohol: water. When the concentration of the brix in wine is high, the alcohol content becomes correspondingly high in response. While alcohol is the main point of what makes wine what it is compared to simple juice, too much affects the flavor and makes the beverage more dangerous. So, water is used to bring the alcohol concentration in line.
The water is added to the dehydrated grapes rather than the wine itself, allowing the alcohol concentration to lower before refinement. Once the grapes have been sufficiently rehydrated to the point that the alcohol level becomes acceptable, the grapes are processed to begin the fermentation process. This process is what dictates whether or not the next additive gets added to the mix or not.
There is generally a measure to ensure that not all of the sugar is fully converted into the wine itself during the fermentation process. If the sugar is completely absent once the fermentation is complete, some vineyards will add more. Generally, this is done because if all the sugar is used up, the wine is not quite as sweet as intended. So, additional sugar is used to make it meet those expectations.
Obviously, not every vineyard will use precisely the same measures. What we have discussed here is more of a general outline of processes used to produce jammy wines intentionally. Most jammy wines are the result of intentional creation, too. More traditional examples tend to be preferred with a more nuanced flavor profile than a sweet one.
Is a “Jammy” Wine a Good Thing?
This particular question is a matter of opinion and dependent on your particular tastes. Most critics of fine wine will discount jammy wines as an inelegant and unworthy addition to the class. However, one should never allow the critiques of others to color their own experiences in our opinion. So, whether or not wines of this nature are good will be dependent on you. Those of you who are only beginning to show an interest in the drinking of wine might find it to be an effective jumping-off point.
We are sure some of you have taken grape juice or a similar beverage and pretended it was an alcoholic beverage. However, those drinks were sweeter and had no alcohol content. Jammy wines can serve as the halfway point between those drinks from our youth and the more intensive flavors of other wines. Alternatively, maybe you prefer sweeter flavors to the tartness of most alcohol. In that case, jammy wines might be more up your alley than the heavily praised fine wines.
Simply put, there is no objective answer to this question because your tastes will likely not align with those of other wine drinkers. Therefore, it becomes a matter of exploring the wines for yourself and seeing how you like them. If you prefer other wines, so be it. If you prefer the sweet, enjoy! However, there is no definitive answer to whether jammy wines are good.
Wines to Look Out For
Whether you want to know so you can avoid them, or because you want to give them a fair shake, being aware of which wines are jammy wines is important. There are certain brands of wines that are particular for creating jammy wines, but one rule will preclude them regardless of the vintner.
Jammy wines are exclusively never going to be white wine. This is because the grapes used in white wines are naturally more tart than red ones and never really get too sweet. As a result, it is nearly impossible to create a genuinely jammy white wine. There might be sweeter white wines, but never a jammy one.
There are a few red wines that are known for producing a few jammy wines and more common varieties. These brands include:
- Zinfandel: A brand of wine originating from Croatia.
- Grenache: A brand of wine originating from Spain.
- Cabernet Franc: A brand of wine originating from France.
- Shiraz: A brand of wine originating from Iran.
- Merlot: A brand of wine originating from France.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: A brand of wine originating from France.
You might recognize some of these names, especially since some are renowned for producing specific wines. Many of them have enjoyed popularity among consumers and enthusiasts worldwide for their quality. However, they all have produced jammy wines of some sort that might be just as popular.
Keeping an eye out for these brands will increase your odds of either finding a quality bottle of jammy wine to try or to avoid depending on your particular tastes. Knowledge is power, as they say, and this knowledge can save you from buyers’ remorse.
Another thing to note is that most quality wines will have a higher price tag attached to them. Therefore, regardless of whether they are jammy or not, the wines from more reputable vineyards like the ones listed will demand a higher cost.
Conversely, more mundane brands like Barefoot will be much cheaper due to its status as a discount wine. However, if you are trying a jammy wine for the first time, you might be better off opting for one of the more reputable brand names solely because there is a higher standard of quality attached.
We are not advising you to break the bank. However, sometimes that little extra cost is enough to distinguish between a worthwhile purchase and a poor decision. So, with all of this in mind, there is little else to discuss.
Raise a Glass With Us
Wine comes in so many different forms, flavors, and ages that it is difficult to qualify each one of them objectively. Jammy wines have a bad rap from many a sommelier who might view them as little more than alcoholic juice. However, the true power of what makes a wine worthy lies in the tastes of the one drinking it.
Regardless of your past experiences with wine, your interest in jammy wines might have been born from a curiosity of what makes them so controversial within the community. Knowing now that it is the flavor and texture of the beverage will enable you to make a more informed decision regarding giving them a chance.
Every wine has a story to tell. From the first grape refined into the fine liquid you now have in your glass to the very soil from which it grew. Sharing those stories is as much a part of the experience as the actual consumption. We at the Wine Diarist believe that those stories are a significant aspect of making the world of wine a wonderful place. We know you might yet have questions about wine of all kinds, and we would love to answer those questions. So, feel free to look to our website for a plethora of more information about wine.
For example, if you have ever been curious about Pink Prosecco, how it’s made, or how to look for a high-quality bottle, you can read through our article all about Pink Prosecco, which you can find here.
Maybe you’re looking for information about the expiration date of white wine, or the signs that a bottle of wine has gone bad. In that case, please feel free to check out that article over here.
Or maybe, you’re just simply wondering as to what temperature you should set your wine fridge. If you’re curious about that, you can find the answers you’re looking for right over here.
However, if you have a question about wine that we have not answered, we urge you to leave a comment. We would love to answer it for you and help you further your place in the world of wine. As always, we toast to your health and hope your life is as sweet as the jammy wines of today’s discussion. Cheers to you!