If you’re a true wine admirer, then you’ll affirm that wine exploration doesn’t necessarily favor the sweet toothers – if there is such a word! As most conventional wines are not sweet, its a bomber for the cake lovers. But sweet wines are not meant for dessert pairing only, as many assume. A good number of wines have a natural sweetness that is perfect for main courses. The best sweet red wine is not measured by the sugar content it possesses, but rather, the level of acidity, tannins, and alcohol content in it.
Now, going into the details, I have sampled 9 of the best sweet wines and explored how they are made.
My number one bottle is Riesling grown in Germany, United States, Austria, France, New Zealand, and South Africa. This sweet wine is available as dry white or as a sweet dessert wine. To make this dessert wine, the grapes should have a noble rot and harvest late thereby sustaining a raisin-like state. With high acidity and low alcohol content, sweet Riesling pairs perfectly with cheese, salty food, and fresh fruits to balance its sweetness. Grape varietals blended with these wines include Riesling, Chardonnay, Scheurebe, Ortega Gewürztraminer, and Welschriesling. The level of sweetness in this wine is 90–220 g/L residual sugar, and a great bottle goes for about $15.
- Ice Wine
Just as the name suggests, Ice wine is made from frozen vine grapes. Ones the vines are frozen, the grapes are picked and pressed to release the sugar. Thereafter, the liquid is then fermented to produce luscious, sweet ice wine. This sweet wine is popular in Canada, Germany, and Austria, where its called eiswein. The vibrant acidity in this semi-sweet red wine makes it a perfect after-meal drink. It also goes well with a simple dessert of fresh fruits or cheese and also with chocolate. You can also enjoy it as an aperitif. Its grape variants include Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, and Vidal. The sweetness level is between 120–220 g/L residual sugar and you can expect to spend $30 on its bottle.
- Moscato d’Asti
With a low alcohol content of about 6.5% ABV, this sweet wine is popular in Italy’s Piemonte region. During its making, the minimum potential alcohol content of 10% ABV is reached before harvesting of this sweet wine. The grapes are then pressed and chilled to freezing point hence fermented if necessary. Thereafter, the process is paused when the alcohol content reaches between 5.5 – 6.5% ABV giving it awesome sweetness ideal for desserts. The grape variety is Moscato Bianco with a sweetness level of 90–120 g/L residual sugar. A bottle of Moscato d’Asti goes for $15.
The king of all sweet wines is undoubtedly Sauternes. It gets its sweetness by being produced in the Graves region in Bordeaux which has been affected by noble rot. The grapes are harvested once they have achieved a 13% ABV alcohol content. Categorized as a perfumed wine, it contains notes of coconut, ginger, honeyed apricots, mango, caramel, and citrus. You can serve it chilled with a plate of crème brulee, fois gras, chocolate, moldy cheeses, and cakes. Grape varietals include, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Sauvignon Gris, and Muscadelle. The sweetness level is 120–220 g/L residual sugar and you’ll spend $45 on a bottle — up to hundreds for high-end producers.
- Tokaji Aszú
One of the most celebrated wines in the world, the Aszú wines of Tokaj, Hungary, is produced from a white grape called Furmint, that’s rarely found anywhere else. The grapes have been infected by the noble rot fungus. Sounds gross, right? But this produces a golden, sweet, white wine that’s rich with the flavor of saffron and ginger. It has an average alcohol content of about 9 – 11% ABV. With its sweet, honey, caramelized flavors, it is perfect for dishes like foie gras, creamy cheeses,cakes, and fruit desserts. Furmint and Hárslevel? are its grape varietals. With a sweetness level of about 60–450 g/L residual sugar, you’ll part with $50 per bottle.
Next in the list is Port Wine and its the sweetest wine produced in Douro Valley of Portugal with flavors like blackberry, raspberry, caramel chocolate sauce, and cinnamon. Although there are several types of Port wine, the two major ones are ruby Port with berries and chocolate flavors, and tawny-colored Port with caramel and nut flavors. This sweet wine pairs beautifully with flavored cheeses, smoky meats, salted and smoked nuts, and caramel desserts. Tinta Barroca, Tempranillo, Tinta Cão,Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Francesa are its grape variants. For a sweetness level of 90–140 g/L residual sugar, you are likely to spend about $50 for a bottle of vintage-dated Port.
San Antonio’s Bodega Sangrias come in two mouthwatering flavors: Bodega Sangria Tradicional and Bodega Sangria Blanca. Both are produced with 100% natural grapes, fermented naturally with enhanced natural fruits. While Bodega Sangria Tradicional encompasses orange flavors balanced by bright acidity level, on the other hand, Bodega Sangria Blanca contains fresh orange, lime, and lemon aspects. With 10% ABV, Sangrias pair well with Thai, Spanish, and Tex-Mex dishes like stuffed jalapeno papers, roasted chipotle salsa, or chorizo based dishes. A bottle costs around $6.90.
This unique and delicious red wine is made by San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles, US. It features a proprietary blend by the Riboli family and is a Gold medal award winner in national competitions. This sweet red wine is best served chilled, with the hint mixed berries giving it a robust flavor. It has a low alcohol content of 12% ABV, making it perfect for spice-rich foods and savory Italian dishes with a touch of garlic. A bottle costs $9.
- Stella Rosa Rosso
Stella Rosa Rosso is the first of its kind, a semi-sweet, semi-sparkling wine produced by Stella Rosa Wines. It has a 5.5% alcohol content that balances the acidity and sweetness, making it perfect as an easy-to-enjoy drink. The wine boasts a strawberry freshness and red berry features. You will enjoy it best when chilled and paired with cheese, spicy food, fresh fruits, chocolates, and cake for dessert. Its grape varietal is Brachetto; with a sweetness level of 11.58% residual sugar you can enjoy this bottle by spending just $9.
If you are a wine lover and want to enjoy these sweet wines delivered right to your doorstep, just sign up for Sweet Wine Club, and treasure the sweetest surprise you’ve ever had.