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After a fine four-course meal, what better way to cap off the evening than with a sweet wine. One method of making a sweet wine is by picking the grape during a late harvest. The late harvest allows grapes to shrivel on the vine and creates a concentration of grape sugars due to dehydration. The method of utilizing a late harvest is common to South Africa, Australia, and Alsace, an eastern region of France.
The Alsace winemakers have a coveted category of sweet wines called, vendange tardive, which must meet five criteria:
1. A declaration of intent must be made the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), the governing organization which recognizes the geographic origin of an agricultural product.
2. The grape used to make vendange tardive must be from a single variety and not a blend.
3. The wine must be examined for sugar content by the INAO.
4. The must weight, or sugar concentration, needs to meet exact standards.
5. In order to bear the label vendange tardive, the wine must have a certificate of conformity.