Some people prefer sweet wine over dry. It’s a matter of taste, but the sweetness in a wine can vary depending on the growing climate, how it’s fermented, if it’s fortified, and even how late in the season it’s pulled from the vine.
When I first started expanding my knowledge of wine, I thought (and many people think the same) that sweet wine brands were always white and had very little alcohol content, but that’s not always true.
In fact, You can find some very potent sweet wines as well as red wines that are just as sweet as white.
If you like sweet wines, but you’re scared to try something different, it’s time to expand your horizons! Here are several sweet wines I think you should try.
Varieties & Types That Make Up Sweet Wine Brands
- Pinot Grigio
- White Zinfandel
- Moscato d’Asti
- Ice Wine
If you’re looking for sweet wines, this is a great place to start. Moscato is one of the sweetest wines you’ll find, although its sweetness varies from one producer to another.
This wine is usually light-bodied with low alcohol content, making it perfect for an afternoon or evening drink. Moscato also makes a great dessert wine. Pour it over ice cream or chocolate cake for an extra special treat. Yum!
This is one of those varietals you can find in red, and a Red Moscato offers the same sweetness as a white Moscato with added flavors of cherries and berries.
Riesling is another sweet wine that’s very versatile. It can be dry or sweet, depending on how it’s made. German Rieslings are usually sweeter than their French counterparts, but both can be delicious.
This is another wine that’s perfect for dessert. It pairs well with fruits, cheeses, and even spicy foods. If you’re having a picnic, pack a bottle of Riesling to enjoy along with your meal.
For an affordable Riesling, my absolute favorite is Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Harvest Reisling. It’s around $10 a bottle and it’s absolutely delicious.
If you’re looking for a French Riesling, the Alsace region specializes in this varietal. Gustav Lorentz is one of the best and most accessible in terms of price and availability.
Sauternes is a type of dessert wine made in the Bordeaux region of France. It’s made from grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, aka “noble rot.” This fungus dries out the grapes, concentrating their sugars and flavors.
Sauternes is a very sweet wine with intense flavor. It pairs well with rich foods like foie gras, roasted meats, and strong cheeses. If you’re having a holiday dinner, this is the perfect wine to serve.
4. Pinot Grigio
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a Pinot Grigio. Its light and crisp texture make it almost bubbly, and it’s the perfect wine for a hot summer day.
While some Pinot Grigios are dry, there are still plenty of producers who make a sweeter style of this wine. For a sweet Pinot Grigio, look for one from Italy or California.
5. White Zinfandel
Some may consider White Zinfandel to be a blush wine, but I think it’s sweet enough to be included on this list, and it’s a great option for people who want to try a sweet wine that has a tint to it.
This wine is made from the same grape as traditional red Zinfandel, but it’s fermented for a shorter period of time, resulting in a sweeter, lighter wine.
White Zinfandel is perfect for picnics and BBQs. It’s great with food, but it’s also refreshing enough to drink on its own and has some bubbly qualities.
For an affordable White Zinfandel, try Beringer, Yellow Tail, or Sutter Home. If you want to spend a little more, Robert Mondavi makes a very good one that’s still relatively affordable but higher quality.
Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine that’s becoming increasingly popular in the US. It’s usually fairly dry, but there are some producers who make a sweeter style. You can usually find these sweet Proseccos labeled as “Extra Dry” or “Dry.”
Prosecco is perfect for any occasion. It’s great on its own, but it also pairs well with food. It’s especially good with lighter fare like salads and fish.
Because I don’t like to follow the crowds, I tend to enjoy my Prosecco with anything off of the grill – hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, or smoked meats.
The great thing about Prosecco is that it’s similar to Champagne, but you can drink it on a budget. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good quality Prosecco. In fact, I have a friend who gets her favorite Prosecco at Costco. No joke.
If you’re looking for an excellent Prosecco, I highly recommend Menage a Trois. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and bubbly to tickle your nose and throat.
If you put some frozen fruit in your glass, it will infuse a bit of flavor and make you feel fancy.
7. Moscato d’Asti
Similar to Moscato, the Moscato d’Asti is a sweet, light-bodied wine from Italy. It’s made in the Piedmont region and it’s slightly sparkling.
For people who like the sweetness of the Moscato with the bubbly of Prosecco, this wine is perfect.
This is a great wine to enjoy on its own or with dessert. If you’re having chocolate cake or tiramisu, Moscato d’Asti is the perfect pairing. Of course, you can also drink it as an afternoon snack or a poolside beverage without food.
My favorite Moscato d’Asti is Risata, and it’s only about $15 at Wal-Mart.
Much like Riesling, Gewurztraminer is a type of white wine that’s made in Germany and Alsace, France.
However, unlike Riesling, Gewurztraminer is usually quite sweet. This is because the grapes have a high sugar content and they’re often affected by noble rot.
Gewurztraminer is a very aromatic wine with lychee, floral, and spice notes. This wine can be dry or sweet, but the sweetness is usually balanced by high acidity.
It pairs well with Asian cuisine, as well as dishes with strong or spicy flavors. If you’re having Indian food, Gewurztraminer is a great choice.
For a sweet Gewurztraminer, Fritz Haag makes an excellent one. And in a shameless plug for my home state, Missouri’s Hermann Wine Trail is full of wineries and vineyards with German heritage, and it has some fantastic affordable options for this varietal.
9. Ice Wine
Ice wine is a type of dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. This process concentrates the sugars and flavors, resulting in a sweeter, more intense wine.
These wines can also be more expensive because the concentrated sugars create a higher alcohol content.
Ice wine is typically made from Riesling or Vidal Blanc grapes, but other varieties can be used as well. This is a great wine to enjoy after a meal with some cheese or fruit. It’s also excellent on its own as an after-dinner drink.
You should go into drinking an ice wine knowing that its intense sweetness isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you may not like it. However, my favorite ice wine is from Augusta Winery. I’ve never had a better one.
Port wines are fortified wines from the Douro Valley in Portugal. These wines are typically made with red grapes, but white and rosé ports are also produced. Port wines are usually sweet, but they can also be dry or semi-sweet.
Port wine is red wine and it’s very dark, so it can be misleading. However, when a wine is fortified, that means it’s had brandy added to it. This process makes the wine sweeter and more alcoholic, which can make it more expensive as well.
If you’re looking for a dessert wine, Port is an excellent choice, and many producers in the United States have their own Port-style wines. These pair well with chocolate, cheese, and nuts. I like to enjoy mine with a steak dinner.
I’ve had a few ports in my day, but my favorite is the Mount Pleasant Port. This wine is dark and fruity with flavors of chocolate, blackberry, and cherry. It’s also reasonably priced at around $20.