Most people know that wine has various flavors, but sweet dessert wines are often overlooked. These wines have the perfect balance of sweetness and flavor to enjoy with your favorite dessert! We hope this article helps you find your new favorite sweet drink.
Table of Contents
- Types of Dessert Wines
- Sparkling Dessert Wine
- Lightly-Sweet Dessert Wine
- Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
- Sweet Red Wine
- Late-Harvest Red Wines
- Fortified Wine
- Port Wine
- Sherry Wine
- Madeira Wine
- Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)
- Conclusion: Sweet Dessert Wine
- Frequently Asked Questions
Types of Dessert Wines
Sparkling Dessert Wine
Sparkling wine is one of the best drinks for summer, but it also has a few tricks up its sleeve. The high acidity and carbonation in sparkling wines make them taste less sweet than they are!
They are perfect for pairing with desserts or enjoying a hot evening patio.
Sparkling wines come in many different styles and flavors- some of the most popular are champagne (French) and Prosecco (Italian).
Brut sparkling wine has less sugar than other varieties, so it can be enjoyed by those who prefer dryer drinks.
Lightly-Sweet Dessert Wine
The best thing about light, sweet wines is that they’re refreshingly sweet and perfect for a hot day.
These wines are not for those who prefer dryer drinks, and they’re perfect for drinking by the pool or on a hot summer day.
Lightly-sweet dessert wine is usually made from white grapes like Sauvignon Blanc. They are dried out slightly before fermentation starts to preserve their natural sugar content.
This drink is known for its floral flavor and moderate alcohol content. It can be found in California, Alto-Adige (Italy), Alsace, and New Zealand – places where wine has been grown since the 17th century!
Gewürztraminer is an excellent wine for those who enjoy the sweeter tastes in life.
The grape varieties used to produce this drink are Gutedel, Riesling, and Muscat Blanc (grown on steep slopes). Many of these grapes grown being dried before fermentation has started – preserving their natural sugars content.
The perfect wine for cutting the cake’s sweetness is an easy go-to. Available from both dry styles common in Australia and Alsace and sweeter varieties typical to Germany, you’ll never get bored with these delicious wines!
Müller-Thurgau is a less common grape variety from Germany that can be found in certain places in Oregon and has some popularity on the East coast. Its light acidity means it pairs well with sausages, making for excellent porch wine.
Chenin Blanc is a wine that can produce different flavors depending on where it is made. In the United States, Chenin Blancs are generally sweet and overly-fruity tasting with an acidic aftertaste.
The Chenin blanc style in France and South Africa tends to be dryer (and more like Sauvignon). When buying this type of white grape, you should pay attention to labels as many producers create both styles!
Viognier is not always sweet, but sometimes you can get it with a fruity style with tones of peaches and perfume.
If you find a more fruity style, it will likely have flavors of peaches or apricots.
Viognier is also rich in floral and honeysuckle notes. If the wine smells like flowers with citrus undertones, this would indicate that there’s Viogner involved!
Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
Glowing with the warmth of honey, these wines are made from grapes that have been harvested at their peak and left to dry on vines.
This style’s best sources come from France’s Sauternes region, where a deep golden hue has earned them immortal fame.
Napoleon himself was said to be unable to resist its charms! Hungary also produces some sweet styles, including Tokaji (‘toe-kye’), one of the oldest known varieties in Europe.
Sweet Red Wine
The majority of these excellent sweet red wines are from Italy using esoteric grapes. They’re on the decline mainly because they cost more to make and because people want a drier wine after eating their Thanksgiving dinner.
But there’s still hope if you look hard enough!
You might have heard of Prosecco, but did you know that it’s a wine made in the Veneto region? The distinctive flavor is often dry and light with raspberry or blueberry undertones. There are also sweet varieties labeled as Amabile (sweet) and Dulce (very sweet).
The Italian wine Brachetto is a light-bodied, sweet fruit wine with strawberries and floral aromas. It is an excellent combination with cured meats like salami or prosciutto because they are salty to cut through the drink’s sweetness.
The Schiava wine is a hard-to-find variety from Alto-Adige that’s nearly extinct. As you take in its sweet, light scent of cotton candy and raspberry, it will refresh your palette with just enough sweetness to make it enjoyable.
The Freisa grape is a relative of Nebbiolo that comes with more floral cherry notes and lighter tannins.
It’s perfect with desserts or pair alongside almond biscotti, as the sweetness in this wine will balance out its intense flavors.
Recioto della Valpolicella
Recioto Della Valpolicella wine is the perfect pairing for strong, spicy dishes.
In Italy (where Recioto Della Valpolicella wines are made), it’s often served alongside a hearty meal to help warm you up. Some say its qualities make it an excellent hangover cure!
This sweet dessert wine is made with the same grapes as Valpolicella but undergoes aging in oak barrels. This process gives it a deep caramel color and rich flavor that will make you feel like your taste buds are dancing around all over! This drink’s sweetness also helps balance out any bitterness from other dishes on an Italian dinner table.
Late-Harvest Red Wines
If you are adventuring for new wines to try, then these red dessert wines might be up your alley. The taste is sweet with an alcohol content that can’t compare to anything else out there.
The most sought-after varieties include Petite Sirah, Malbec, Mourvedre, and Zinfandel which explode in sweetness on the palate with heightened alcohol levels.
Most people have heard of fortified wines before but don’t know much about them. Fortified wine is stronger than other types of drinks because it has grape brandy added to the mix.
Not all fortifications are dry or sweet- some might be a dessert-type drink that’s perfect for topping off your next dinner party with something both subtle and strong at the same time!
In Portugal, the Douro river region is responsible for producing rare and sweet red wines made from plenty of traditional Portuguese grapes, including Tinta Roriz, Touriga France, and Touriga Nacional.
The wine starts fermenting as soon as it gets stomped on by grape collectors until each tank smells like a giant fruit salad.
Port wine producers use this unique “foot-stomping” process because it’s one way to ensure high-quality port wine production.
Ruby & Crusted Port (sweet)
Ruby & Crusted Ports are perfect for those who prefer a bottle of less sweet wine. The un-aged Ruby Port is not as dark in color but has an alcohol content of 18% and tastes like a freshly minted port with hints of strawberries.
Vintage & LBV Port (sweet)
There are two different types of Port, LBV, and Vintage. The difference between the two is that their cork enclosures dictate how they should be enjoyed.
LBVs tend to have a more youthful taste, so it’s best to drink them when you get them because the flavor will change over time.
Vintages can take up to twenty years before drinking for optimal enjoyment.
The Vintage & LBV Ports are best for those who love the taste of sweet wine. The vintage Port has an alcohol content between 20-30%. Its dark cherry color can identify it with hints that lean more towards blackberries.
Tawny Port (very sweet)
The longer Tawny Port wine ages, the more figgy and nutty its flavor becomes. A 30-40-year-old is considered to be best by most experts.
Port-Style Wines or Vin Doux Naturel (sweet)
Port is a type of wine that can only be produced in Portugal. Today, many producers have port-style wines like Pinot Noir’ port’ or Zinfandel’ Port.’
The most popular type of port-style wine made in the U.S is Vin Doux Naturel, a sweet and fruity dessert with less sugar than typical ports but more acid.
Sherry is a type of wine that comes from Andalusia, Spain. Sherries are made using Palomino grapes and Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel wines.
The driest and lightest of all the Sherry wines, there is a tartness to Fino that helps balance out its nutty flavors.
Manzanilla is a type of wine that can only be made in a specific region near Jerez, Spain. More often than not, you’ll find it to have more body and flavor than Fino through its darker color and dryness (due to oxidation during the aging process).
Their style differentiates manzanillas as they’re typically lighter-bodied with less intense flavors than other Sherry types such as Amontillado or Oloroso Sherry.
Those two variants tend to be richer tasting wines with higher alcohol content levels. After fermentation, the yeast cells live on within them for years before bottling up.
Palo Cortado (dry)
Palo Cortado is a unique wine with more flavor and aroma than other Sherry types. When aged for the appropriate amount of time, this type turns into darker wines with richer undertones.
Amontillado (primarily dry)
The Amontillado is a high-quality aged sherry with a nutty almond flavor. It’s like eating peanuts and butter in liquid form!
Oloroso wine is a very dark and aged sherry famous for its high alcohol content due to water evaporation throughout the wine aging process.
It is more like scotch than any other Sherry type in terms of its complexity when drinking this beverage at mealtime or during happy hour.
Cream Sherry (sweet)
A perfect accompaniment to many desserts, cream sherries are often enjoyed chilled or at room temperature as an after-dinner drink.
The sweet and fig-flavored Moscatel is the perfect way to top off a day of exploring. With a lower alcohol content, Moscatel is the perfect dessert wine to enjoy with friends or after dinner.
Pedro Ximénez (PX) (very sweet)
The sweet, fig-like flavors of Pedro Ximenez make it a perfect sipping drink to enjoy by the fire.
The Madeira wine is a special kind of drink because it undergoes an unusual process to produce the beverage.
It’s made up of four different grapes, grown exclusively on a tiny island called “Madeira,” separated from Portugal centuries ago by earthquakes and floods!
Some people refer to its production as “the art” since these wines have been heated with air.
Rainwater & Madeira
When you see the label says “Madeira” or “Rainwater,” it’s typically a blend of all four grapes and has an average level of sweetness.
After decades of experimentation, the Sercial grape has become one of the essential grapes in Madeira wine. These wines are bright and dry, with notes that range from peaches to apricots. The best-known example is a 100-year-old bottle!
Verdelho wine is perfect for anyone who loves a good citrus flavor that will develop into nutty flavors with time.
Bual wines have notes of burnt caramel and brown sugar.
You can find ten-year-old “medium” (medium sweet) Bual Madeira or well-aged 50-70-year-old versions as well.
Malmsey Madeira is a wine with an orange citrus taste. They have caramel, oily oxidation, and nutty flavors combined for the quintessential Portuguese flavor experience.
Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)
Vin Doux Naturel, a French term that translates to “natural wine,” is characterized by grape brandy instead of distilled spirits. The drink’s base wine style comes from Port and often includes sweet spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg in addition to sugar.
The Grenache-based VDN originated from the south of France, like Banyuls, Rasteau, and Maury. They have a noticeable sweetness and are often balanced with higher acidity in grapes.
The Muscat-based VDN is made of Rivesaltes, Frotignan, Beaumes de Venise wines, and Australia’s Rutherglen. Orange Muscats from Italy make their way in to provide a more pleasant taste!
Malvasia-based wines (for example, the Malvasia delle Lipari Liquoroso) usually hail from Sicily and Italy.
The Mavrodaphni, which comes from Greek origins, has shared qualities to port wines: It’s typically very light-bodied with low tannins and high acidity levels.
It is ideally suited for easy drinking during warmer months.
Conclusion: Sweet Dessert Wine
We have discussed the various sweet dessert wines that are available. We have also given you an insight into the different types of wines and the recommended food combinations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Wines Are Dessert Wines?
Dessert wines are a class of wine that is typically sweet and often has hints of fruits. There are many types, such as Sauternes or Tokaji Aszú from Hungary. At the same time, champagne can be considered either sparkling white wine or dessert wine, depending on how it’s served with the meal.
What Are The Best Dessert Wines?
The best dessert wines have a high level of acidity, which helps balance out the sweetness. One of the most popular is Muscat, with a floral aroma and sweet taste. Other good options include Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Sauternes.
What Is A Good Dessert Wine For Beginners?
The first thing you should consider is the occasion for which you are buying this wine. If it’s a special occasion, we recommend something sweet and fruity like Moscato or Riesling. If it’s an informal gathering, try something light and refreshing like Gewürztraminer or Pinot Grigio.
Why Is Dessert Wine Expensive?
Dessert wines are typically consumed as an after-dinner drink. They have higher alcohol content compared to regular wine, usually between 15% and 20% ABV.
The grapes used to make dessert wine tend to be from late harvest or botrytized grape varieties that can only grow in specific climates.
Dessert wines are made to be aged for several years, making them more expensive.
Do You Refrigerate Port Wine?
You should refrigerate port wine if you want it to last longer.
Because this fortified wine has been blended with brandy (some other spirit), this combination increases its alcohol content and preserves the grapes’ flavor.
Fortified wines have a lower pH than table wines, so they are more susceptible to bacteria growth and spoilage.
If your goal is to store Port for short periods of time (less than two weeks), you can keep it at room temperature.
When Should I Drink Port Wine?
Port wine is best served with desserts, such as fruitcake or Christmas pudding.
It’s also an excellent accompaniment to cheese and crackers.
What Is A Good Sweet Wine With High Alcohol Content?
Many different kinds of wines fall into this category, including Port, Madeira, and Tokaji Aszú.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, try Moscato d’Asti from Italy.
What Is The Best Sweet Sparkling Wine?
One of the best sweet sparkling wines is made by a company called Domaine Chandon. They make a non-vintage, dry sparkling wine that tastes like fresh fruit and has a light sweetness. It’s perfect for any occasion, whether you’re celebrating or just relaxing with friends.