Fifteen years ago, a few Alsatian wines were sweet, and the rest were dry. But "dry Alsace wines have taken a turn to the sweet side, usually without warning to consumers," Eric Asimov writes in the New York Times. The change occurred at both ends of the market: cheaper wines are being artificially sweetened, and better vintages, using traditional practices, are simply bottling what riper grapes produce.
The rise in sweetness prompted an attempt by the French government to regulate sugar content, but the limits for Alsatian wines are so high they likely won’t make a difference. Some producers are voluntarily rating their wines, but the methods are so obscure that an unwitting oenophile will likely be in the dark. Asimov’s advice? “Know the producer well.”