Contrary to popular belief, sweet wines aren’t relegated just for dessert. They can be served with a variety of savory dishes and can even be enjoyed on their own. Underneath the layer of residual sugar, a lot of sweet wines are packed with rich flavors that are rarely ever sweet.
If you’re looking to try out some sweet wines, then this article will explore the details of the most luscious and flavorsome wines!
What Kind of Wine Is Sweet White Wine?
Sweet wines are wines that contain some residual sugar after the process of fermentation. The residual sugar left behind becomes a preservative, which makes sweet wines ideal for long-term storage.
A wine’s sweetness is also determined by the levels of acids, tannins, and alcohol present in it. Alcohol and sugar increase a wine’s sweetness whereas tannins and acids reduce it.
However, ‘sweet’ can often be a confusing term because some wines are very sweet while others are a little less sweet. Here is a list of popular varieties of sweet white wines:
Chardonnay is primarily produced in Australia and France. It’s rich in flavors like tangerine, apple, lemon, melon, oak, and lime.
Muscat is one of the most popular kinds of sweet white wines and is produced almost all over the world. It is produced from grapes like the Muscat Canelli and Muscat Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc is more popular in countries like the US and France. The ideal serving temperature of this wine is 52 degrees Fahrenheit. It has flavors of apple, grass, and herbs that are great to taste.
These are a few examples of the kinds of sweet white wines. There are various others like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
Best Sweet White Wine Overall – Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria
If you’re looking for a top sweet white wine, then the Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria from Donnafugata is your best bet. Donnafugata was founded in Sicily by a family that revolutionized the style of Sicilian wine throughout the world. Giacomo Rallo founded Donnafugata in 1983. He is part of the fourth generation of the family that has close to 160 years of experience in producing wine.
Donnafugata produces wines that are pleasant, unique, and elegant. They pride themselves on their sustainability practices and have applied them for over 30 years.
Donnafugata Ben Rye is made 100% from Zibibbo and Muscat grapes. This excellent dessert wine emits intense aromas of chestnut honey, orange marmalade, and mature apricot. Once you take a sip, this wine ebbs with exquisite flavors of tangerine zest, lemon jam, ripe figs, dates, with lingering flavors of bergamot that stick with you till the very end.
This wine pairs amazingly well with desserts like gourmet chocolate. For example, gianduja. It also goes well with pastries. Additionally, the wine makes a fine companion with foie gras, blue cheese, and caramelized duck. Moreover, this wine can be enjoyed alone too, making it the best sweet white wine on this list.
Best Value Sweet White Wine – Quady Electra White (California Moscato)
Andrew Quady, the founder of Quady wineries happened to stumble upon an unused patch of land which was home to rare Orange Muscat grapes in a small town in San Joaquin. This little patch of land marked the beginning of Quady Wineries- where the bold and intense flavors of rare Muscat grapes are intensified and brought to life.
Upon opening a bottle of Quady Electra White, you are greeted with the aromas of wildflowers, stone fruit, and melon rind. After sipping the wine, your palette is met with peach, melon, sweet citrus, honeydew, and dandelion. This wine is perfect for drinking outdoors, in pleasant weather. Most Moscatos are produced from the Muscat of Alexandria but the Electra is made with 75% Orange Muscat and the rest is balanced out from Muscat Canelli.
The wine pairs beautifully with salads, fresh fruits, spicy Indian and Asian foods. Additionally, you can pair this wine with light desserts or burgers. Interestingly, you can also use it to make sorbet or sangria. However, if you don’t wish to pair the wine with food, don’t worry because you can also drink a glass of this dessert wine as it is.
Best Cheap Sweet White Wine – Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling
The Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling was released in 1992 by Randall Graham and almost instantly became popular among Riesling enthusiasts. Revered for its intense and fresh characteristics, the wine swiftly became an alternative to one-dimensional, oak-aged white wines. As the palate of Americans evolved through the years, complex wines like the Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling grew in popularity.
For this wine, Pacific Rim halts the fermentation process when the wine reaches a 7% level of residual sugar and instantly cleans the wine to enable it to absorb as much fruitiness and freshness as possible. The result is a wine with low alcohol content and strong flavors of peach, pineapple, dried apricot, and crisp minerals.
The wine also has strong aromas of peach, mangos, and pears with a smooth finish. The wine may be sweet but the acid balances out the sweetness perfectly.
You can pair this wine with spicy cuisines such as Caribbean, Thai, and Szechuan food. Other foods that pair well with this wine are shellfish, pork, cured meats, and poultry.
Best Sweet White Wine Under $20 – R.L. Buller & Son Fine Old Muscat N.V.
Established in 1921 in Rutherglen by Reginald Langdon Buller, their 100-year old vineyard called ‘Calliope Vineyard’ was named after the only ship that survived the Great Hurricane of Samoa. The Buller name has been associated with some of the finest wines in Rutherglen.
Embodying an olive hue with an intense color of sienna brown, Fine Old Muscat emits enticing aromas of old brandy, traces of toffee, ripe raisins, and honey. The palate is filled with decadent flavors of honeyed raisins followed by flavors of orange rind and spice. The wine has a smooth finish with lingering aftertastes of raisins, orange marmalade, and honey.
You can enjoy this wine with a variety of puddings and desserts. Moreover, the wine can be paired with blue cheese and nuts.
Best Sweet Chardonnay – Barefoot Fruitscato-Peach N.V.
Established by Davis Bynum in 1965 in his garage in California, Barefoot has become one of America’s most loved and revered wines. Barefoot follows the strong belief that wine should not be taken too seriously with a conviction that the best wine can only be made with love and affection.
The Peach Fruitscato comprises a light pink color and radiates aromas of fresh peach, apricots, honeysuckles, and watermelons with a crisp, soft, medium-sweet body. The wine has strong flavors of strawberry, apricot, apples, and peaches on the palate.
Best Sweet Expensive White Wine – Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes
The wine produced by Chateau d’Yquem has a rich and unique history. It is the culmination of the unique terroir, extraordinary fusion, interminable efforts of the wine-makers, and ‘The Noble Rot’, Botrytis cinerea, that makes this extraordinary bottle of wine special. The estate has been growing and cultivating grapes since the early 15th-century.
Château d’Yquem Sauternes is like no other sweet white wine. It blends intense aromas of honey, flowers, oranges, grilled nuts, apricot, white peaches, vanilla, and tropical fruits when it’s young. As it ages, the wine embodies an orange copper shade and emits aromas of butterscotch, tropical fruits, and caramel.
On the palate, the Sauternes has smooth and delicate flavors of sweet caramel, tree fruit, honey, peach, pears, vanilla, and apricot.
Château d’Yquem Sauternes can be paired with foods like crab, oysters, shellfish, and lobster. You could also pair the wine with foie gras, veal, pork, and roasted chicken. It lends itself smoothly to foods that are spicy or mildly sweet.
Best French Sweet White Wine – Chateau Rieussec Sauternes (Premier Grand Cru Classé)
Chateau Rieussec was founded by Carmelite monks and like a vast majority of other Bordeaux wineries, this one was also confiscated during the French Revolution. Later in 1790, this estate was bought by the Marheilac family and since then, they have been producing one of the best French sweet white wines.
This Sauternes has thick and intense aromas of quince, marmalade, vanilla, orange candied peel, toast, raisin, honey, caramel, Saffron, and mushrooms.
When it comes to the palate, Chateau Rieussec Sauternes has rich and intense textures of orange, apricot, honey-drenched pineapple, nectarines, mango, caramel, and notes of vanilla. This extraordinary wine can be left to age for decades.
Château Rieussec Sauternes can be served with a variety of seafood like shellfish, crab, lobsters, and oysters. It also pairs amazingly well with fruity desserts and blue cheese.
Best Italian Sweet White Wine – Antinori Castello della Sala Muffato della Sala
The Antinori family has been in the wine-making business for over six centuries, spanning twenty-six generations. Founded in 1385, they have committed themselves to making the best Italian sweet white wines ever since.
This exquisite wine emits spectacular aromas of apricot, honey, orange citrus, peach, pears, raisins, with a few floral notes. On the palate, the wine has intense flavors of pear, peach, apricot, ginger, honeycomb, marmalade, and citrus.
This wine lends itself well to spicy foods and slightly sweet foods. Other food pairings are small pastries, fruit cakes, acacia honey, and Christmas pastries.
Best Hungarian Sweet White Wine – Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Aszu (Blue Label)
Established in 1990, The Royal Tokaji winery was formed by 60 vineyard owners. Their primary goal was to revive and popularize the wines from this region and they have succeeded in doing so.
This straw-colored white wine has deep aromas of fresh apricot, dried pear, yellow peach, and orange peel flavors. On the palate, the wine has strong flavors of acacia honey, Bartlett pear, and apricots.
The wine can be paired with a variety of ripe blue cheeses and sweet desserts, especially the dessert Chocolate Bombe.
Best American Sweet White Wine – Dolce (Late Harvest)
The Dolce Winery is the embodiment of late harvest wine-making. Established in 1985, it is the only American winery that has solely dedicated itself to producing late harvest wines.
This 2013 vintage radiates exquisite aromas of vanilla bean, orange zest, butterscotch, and lingering scents of oak-based spices and minerality. Your palate is greeted with flavors of dried apricot, orange, pears, minerals, and caramel.
This wine goes well with noble cheeses like Stilton, Roquefort, and Gorgonzola. You can also pair it with cured meats like Bresaola, Coppa, Prosciutto.
It is not as difficult to find a good bottle of sweet white wine as it seems. However, you could get a little overwhelmed by the vast sea of choices available. This list of the best sweet white wines is here to help you make your choice. This list is by no means absolute, but it’s a great starting point. Search for distributors like those listed on vivino.com and indulge yourself with some of these luscious sweet white wines. Sweet!