Wine may be a word that brings to mind images of elegant Parisian restaurants or rustic vineyards embracing the Italian countryside. But did you know that wine can also be a great way to relax after a long and tiring day?
If you are a wine enthusiast, then chances are you know that there is nothing better than sitting down and relaxing with a bottle of wine, especially when that wine is sweet, crisp and fresh from the cooler.
So whether you prefer dark reds or fruity roses, wine is one of those drinks that should remain a staple of every person’s wind-down routine.
The only issue is that some wines can be very powerful and aromatic on the tongue, which is why some beginners find it difficult to choose a wine that will satisfy their needs without overpowering their delicate palettes.
So if you are new to drinking alcohol, then we recommend sampling a sweet white wine to begin you on your journey.
Known for their refreshing taste and smooth texture, sweet white wines are the perfect introduction to the wine-drinking world, as they do not possess an oppressive aroma and are often favored for their light and floral notes.
So if you are keen to try some of the best white wines currently available, then you have come to the right place.
In the following article, we have compiled a list of 12 sweet white wines that you will fall in love with, with our selection encompassing everything from delicious Rieslings to modern classics such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
So if you are ready to taste some of the world’s finest white wines, then why not take a look at our choices and see which one takes your interest.
What Makes White Wine Sweet?
During the winemaking process, there are many different treatments that the grapes have to undergo before they can be turned into wine, with one of the most important steps being a process called fermentation.
It is during this treatment, that the grapes are combined with a substance called Yeast, which works to break down the natural sugars in the fruit to convert them into alcohol.
However, it should be noted that not all of the natural sugars are successfully broken down, which means some are left in the wine completely unconverted. It is these remaining sugars that make up what is known as the wine’s ‘residual sugars’ or RS for short.
Thanks to these sugars, the wine is able to retain its sweet taste, which helps to heighten the quality of the flavor and aroma.
Traditionally, sweet wines are drunk at the end of a meal as a type of palette cleanser, regardless of whether they are white or red. For this reason, the price and market availability of white wine is far more competitive than that of red wine.
Because of this, sweet and fruity wines are often mistaken for each other by beginners, which can lead to waste and confusion.
So if you want to identify the differences between sweet and fruity wines, the best thing you can do is smell and taste them.
If the wine is sweet on the tongue and maintains its sweetness long after it has been swallowed, then chances are it’s a sweet wine and will continue to remain on our taste buds for hours to come.
Of course, the flavor of wine can vary depending on numerous factors and can be greatly influenced by how the wine was made, whether that be the actual process or the grapes that were used.
So it is very common for wine to range in terms of taste and texture, which means it is up to you to discern which wine you prefer.
12 Sweet White Wines
Now that you understand what makes white wine sweet, let’s take a look at our list of the 12 sweet white wines that you will love today.
For the first entry on our list, we have chosen a delicious white wine that first originated in the Bordeaux region of France.
Made from the juice of the Semillon grape, Semillon is often considered a hybrid wine among enthusiasts, as it is produced by combining Semillon grapes with Sauvignon Blanc, which results in a wine known for its sweet, syrupy and full-bodied nature.
Although this wine was first produced in the French countryside, Semillon grapes can also be found in other countries such as Chile, Australia, Argentina and California.
During its long history, the wine has also had many names, with its title varying depending on the country where it was made.
Known for its sweet taste, this wine pairs particularly well with fresh seafood and will often be served alongside oysters, clams and mussels. However, if seafood is not your cup of tea, the wine has also been known to complement saucy pastas and fresh salads.
Grape: Palomino, Pedro Xiemez and Moscatel de Alejandria
Sherry is a variety of fortified wine that first originated in the southwest of Spain, where it is commonly produced using three kinds of white wine grape, colloquially referred to as ‘The Sherry Triangle’.
Distinguished by a set of distinctive characteristics, Sherry is incredibly versatile in its design and can range from incredibly sweet to incredibly dry depending on its style and production.
To date, one of the sweetest Sherry wines available is Pedro Ximenez, which is made from the grape of the same name.
Because of its sweet and dry nature, Sherry is commonly paired with desserts in restaurants, with the wine’s rich and syrupy texture perfectly complementing the indulgent flavors of sugar, chocolate and cream.
In a similar fashion to its oaked counterpart, Unoaked Chardonnay first originated in France and is made from Chardonnay grapes that have been grown in diverse conditions and environments.
However, unlike Oaked Chardonnay, this is not aged in oak barrels and is instead contained in stainless steel canisters for only a short period of time. Because of this, the wine does not impart the same notes as its cousin, which will often display tones of vanilla, toffee and coconut.
Like Semillon, Unoaked Chardonnay is favored for its sweet and punchy taste, which is why the wine is traditionally paired with fish and seafood dishes. In particular, the wine pairs well with sushi and shellfish, and can be readily enjoyed with langoustines, clams and mussels.
Pronounced as Shar-do-nay, this classic wine was first produced in the French countryside and is widely considered to be the most prevalent white wine in the world.
Made from Chardonnay grapes that have been grown in viticultural areas, this variety of wine is traditionally aged in oak barrels, which helps to infuse the final formula with sweetened notes of vanilla and toffee.
Known throughout the world for its dry sweetness, Oaked Chardonnay is known to pair particularly well with bold flavors and can be enjoyed with a variety of foods such as chicken breasts, fish, parsley and squash
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc is another classic white wine known across the world for its popularity and intense flavor.
First originating in the Bordeaux region of southwest France, this wine is commonly made using a green-skinned grape, which helps to infuse the finished product with stark and herbal flavors.
Known for its peppy and acidic taste, Sauvignon Blanc can be easily identified by its distinctive aroma, which is said to recall the childhood scents of freshly cut grass and long summer days.
Perfect for hot and sunny days, this wine is known to be very refreshing and can be served with lemonade to create a delicious summertime drink.
When pairing Sauvignon Blanc with food, the sweet wine can be used to complement meats such as pork and turkey, while also heightening the natural flavors of herbs such as parsley, basil and mint.
Otherwise known as Muscato, this white wine was originally produced in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, even though it has since been adopted by other European countries such as France, Spain and Portugal.
Made using the infamous Muscat grape, this wine is commonly distinguished by its sweet and floral flavor, which is said to contain powerful notes of peach, orange blossom and stone fruit.
As a grape, the Muscat is rich in natural sugars and flavonoids and can be eaten raw or dried into raisins. Because of its sweet nature, the grape is perfectly paired with decadent desserts and often forms the basis of many sweet and aromatic wines.
As a wine, Moscato is probably best served cold and is known for its versatile flavor, which means it can be paired with a variety of different dishes from savoury mains to creamy desserts.
Interestingly, the wine is often recommended with traditional Asian cuisine and can be used to combat the heat of spicy curries and stir-fries.
Grape: Trebbiano and Malvasia
Vin Santo (otherwise known as Straw Wine) is an Italian dessert wine that takes its name from the distinctive methods used in its preparation.
Made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes, this wine is produced by evaporating the fruit’s water on large straw mats, which helps to heighten the grape’s natural sugars before they are finally pressed and fermented.
As we previously mentioned, Vin Santo is considered a dessert wine in its native land of Italy, which means it is often paired with sweet and indulgent dishes such as Tiramisu and Crostate, which is a traditional Italian pie.
Unlike the other wines we have mentioned, Riesling is commonly consumed when it is still young and is believed to have first originated in the Rhine region of lower Germany.
However, since its creation, the wine has been adopted by other countries around the world, such as France, Australia and the United States of America.
Known for its rich mineral flavor, Riesling is commonly considered a dessert wine among wine enthusiasts and can be identified by its rich aroma, which is said to contain warm notes of apple and spice.
As a wine, Riesling is known for its delicious balance of sugar and acidity, which means it can be paired with a variety of different dishes.
For example, some people believe that the wine pairs well with spicy food, such as Indian or Japanese. While others prefer to drink the wine with seafood and fish, with its sweet and heady flavor supposedly complementing dishes such as salmon and tuna.
Grape: Hungarian Furmint
For the next entry on our list, we have chosen a wine that can trace its creation back to the 1500s. Originally produced in Hungary, this dessert wine is commonly made using the Hungarian Furmint grape, which has to be affected with noble rot to create the wine’s signature taste.
Thanks to the rot, the natural sugars in the grapes become concentrated, which results in a strong and sweet flavor indicative of honey or syrup.
Once upon a time, Tokaji was exclusively reserved for the members of the Hungarian royal family but has since become one of the country’s finest and most popular wines.
Due to its rich and caramelized flavors, Tokaji often finds itself paired with fruity desserts and creamy cheeses. Although the wine is also known to pair beautifully with a slice of cake and other baked goods.
Grape: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle
First originating in France, Sauternes wines are commonly made using hand picked Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected with botrytis or noble rot.
Known for their unattractive appearance, the affected grapes are said to produce a rich and intoxicating flavor, which helps to give the wine its iconic yellow hue and high sugar content.
Because these grapes are hand-picked during cold and harsh conditions, the price of the wine is usually extremely high, which can make sampling this particular beverage somewhat difficult and unobtainable.
Because of its strong and aromatic flavor, Sauternes is commonly paired with sweet and fruity dishes, such as ripe peaches, French fruit tarts and roast pineapple coated in brown sugar.
But we’re sure it would work well with any sweet dish.
Origin: Germany and Austria
First gaining traction in Germany and Austria, these crisp white wines are commonly made from a variety of different grapes, just so long as the grape has reached its maximum concentration while still growing on the vine.
Known for their hardened sweetness, these wines can produce a symphony of flavors and are only produced during late harvests.
Popular harvest wines currently on the market include: Husch Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Tabali Late Harvest Muscat and Far Niente Dolce Late Harvest.
It is often said that any wine can be transformed into an Ice Wine, even though the statement is not entirely true. First originating in Germany, Ice Wines are commonly made from grapes that have been frozen during the fermentation process, which gives them a sweet and crisp taste.
Because the grapes used to make the wine are picked in cold and dark conditions, Ice Wines are not made with noble rot and are commonly served as dry wines or dessert wines.
Because of their intense sweetness, Ice Wines are traditionally paired with desserts and other sweet treats, with the beverage pairing particularly well with ice cream, cheesecake and other indulgent snacks.
And there we have it! Those are 12 of the best sweet white wines you will ever encounter. We hope that you have found this article informative and that you can use it to find the perfect wine for your palette.