At the beginning of your wine journey, you will come across vast and diverse types of sweet wines suitable for every palate. As everyone has unique tastes and preferences, it’s important to know how to find the perfect sweet wines for beginners.
We will explain what makes the wine sweet for all new wine lovers and offer you some good sweet wines you must try. The list included everything from light and easy to rich dessert wines.
What Makes the Wine Sweet?
There are five structural components in the wine that determine its sweetness. These factors are sugar, alcohol, acidity, tannin, and oak.
Naturally, the higher the sugar levels in the wine, the sweeter it will be. Wines can have two types of sugar – residual sugar and added sugar. Typically, most sweet wines have only natural sugar that is left in the wine after fermentation.
As a rule of thumb, wines with more than 5% residual sugar are considered perfectly sweet. Yet, if you seek dessert wines for beginners, look for sugar levels between 7% and 9%.
More often than not, wines with lower alcohol content are sweeter. Typically, if the 10% alcohol content is less, the chances are the wine will be mildly sweet. If you want to find especially sweet wines for beginners, trying out wines with 8-9% ABV might be a good idea.
The wine’s sweetness is countered by acidity. Considering that, sweet wines typically have low acidity and vice versa. If you are looking for wines for beginners and you have a sweet tooth, avoid buying wines with high acidity levels.
Tannins in wine make it bitter and typically dry off your mouth. Luckily, you won’t have that kind of problem if you choose a good-quality sweet wine. The sugar content in sweet wines makes the wine smoother because it masks tannins.
The wine barrels are usually toasted. If the wine you consider buying was kept inside of toasted oak barrels, it might add to the sweetness of the wine. Typically, the toasted oak adds vanilla, caramel, or butterscotch notes to the wine.
Types of Sweet Wines for Beginners
While browsing the wine aisle, you will notice various sweet wines. The three most common types are ice wine, sauternes, and port wine.
Other excellent sweet wines for beginners are Riesling, Muscat, Zinfandel, White Zinfandel, Brachetto, Lambrusco, and Dornfelder.
Ice wine falls into the category of dessert wines. The growing process of the grapes for ice wine differs from the others. It is made from frozen grapes that are grown in cold climates.
The grapes are left to freeze while they are still in the wine. Consequently, the grape’s sugar content is preserved, and the wine that comes from it is sweeter.
Sauternes is a type of sweet wine that comes directly from France. Sauternes wine can be made from different grape varieties, including Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon.
Sauternes are some of the best sweet wines for beginners because they make the perfect balance of sweetness and mild acidity. You can find them in different refreshing flavors like honey and fruity flavors such as peaches and apricots.
Port is a fortified wine, which commonly is a sweet red wine. But Port also comes in other varieties like dry, semi-dry, and white wine.
The grapes for Port wine are commonly grown in the Douro Valley in Portugal. After the wine is produced from the grapes, it is fortified. Distilled grape spirits are added to preserve the residual sugar in the wine and increase the alcohol content.
How to Find Out If a Sweet Wine Is Good Without Trying It?
When beginner wine drinkers learn how to determine whether a sweet wine is worth buying without tasting it, they can rest assured they are no longer novices.
Although you shouldn’t expect to become an oenophile with your first bottle of wine, here are some tips that can save you from spending your money on low-quality, sweet wine.
Just a heads up, you don’t have to be a wine-tasting expert to find the perfect sweet wine.
A general rule in the wine world is that late-harvested grapes produce sweet wines. The riper the wine grapes, the lower the wine acidity.
Thus, the first step is to look for late-harvest wines. We can easily distinguish them from the others because it is typically written on the back of the bottle.
Avoid flavored wines
Many beginners make the mistake of buying flavored wines. While they might seem tempting and tasty because you are not used to the alcohol content, most flavor wines are not the right choice.
Aside from selected editions of fortified wine, the flavored wines will not offer the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
Even if you are a beginner, you must know that wine gets better with age. Also, you should know that the amount of sugar doesn’t increase as the wine ages.
More often than not, as the wine spends time on the shelf, it will have lower acidity levels. Consequently, the older the wine, the sweeter it might be.
New wine drinkers often opt for cheaper wines. However, if you want to enjoy a good quality bottle of sweet wine, you should set aside roughly $30.
Sweetest Wine in the World
Sherry is the sweetest wine in the world. It is a fortified wine made from white grapes grown in the southern region of Andalusia in Spain. There are seven types of Sherry wines, mostly dry wines, but the sweet version is Sherry Moscatel.
The Sherry Moscatel has 5.64 ounces of sugar in 33,814 fluid ounces of wine (160 grams per liter). As a reference, an average sweet wine has 0.35 of sugar per glass (10 grams).
Sherry Pedro Ximenez is also an excellent semi-sweet wine for beginners.
Short Reviews of Best Sweet Red Wines for Beginners
|Notable regions||Bordeaux and Libournais region in France|
|Aromas||Strawberry, raspberry, bell pepper, chill pepper and tobacco|
|Also called||Bordo, Bouchet, Breton, Cabernet Franco, and Cabernet Franc|
Cabernet Franc is known for its low tannin content and low astringency, making it one of the best sweet wines for beginners. The red wine is soft and smooth with fruity flavors. Cabernet Franc is light-bodied and can be paired with different foods like roasted meats, cheeses, and dark chocolate.
|Notable regions||Weinsberg, Rheinhesse, and Palatinate in Germany|
|Aromas||Oak, plums, blackberries, cherries|
|Also called||We S 341|
The Dornfelder is one of the high-quality sweet red wines. It has a rich red color and typically displays a floral character. The Dornfelder checks all the boxes for a sweet wine, including low tannins, and it is typically oaked. For the ultimate wine-drinking experience, pair it with strong cheeses, game, pork, or light-flavored fish.
|Notable regions||Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy in Italy|
|Aromas||Blackberry, cherry, violet, cream, and rhubarb|
|Also called||Wild Vine, Lambrusco di Sorbara, and Lambrusco Grasparossa|
Lambrusco has a sweet and refreshing taste that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. The sweet Lambrusco versions are referred to as Dolce and Amabile and offer a luscious mouthfeel. Lambrusco pairs well with Italian dishes like pasta, pizza, and cured meat.
|Notable regions||South Australia|
|Aromas||Plums, peppery, black currant, dark berries and raspberry|
|Also called||Sparkling Burgundy|
The Sparkling Shiraz is a bottle of wine you want to grab when you want to enjoy a sweet pleasure. It has a balanced and smooth taste with gentle tannin notes. Pairing the Sparkling Shiraz is easy. It is excellent with meat like duck breast, quail, or game. At the same time, you can drink alongside a rich dessert.
|Notable regions||Piedmont region in Italy|
|Aromas||Strawberries, rose, apricot, cream, and orange zest|
|Also called||Vitis vinifera, a light red equivalent of Moscato d’Asti wines|
Brachetto is one of the top choices for wine drinkers who want their wine sweet and less acidic. The wine is light-bodied, making it a great starting sweet wine for beginners. The notable strawberry and floral aromatics make the wine perfect for drinking with creamy desserts like ice cream, ganache, and mousse.
Short Reviews of Best Sweet White Wines for Beginners
|Notable regions||Croatia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, New Zealand, Australia, United States, Germany, Italy, and Austria|
|Aromas||Lime, green apple, beeswax, jasmine, and petroleum|
|Also called||Johannisberger and Rhein Riesling|
Riesling is a divine choice for beginners because you can drink it while it is young or save it and drink it once it starts to age. Riesling has a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness with intense fruit aromas. You can pair a glass of Riesling with almost everything, from pizza and meat to seafood and Asian cuisine.
|Asti, Alessandria, and Cuneo in Italy|
|Aromas||Meyer lemon, mandarin orange, pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom|
Moscato wines are typically light-bodied and sweet dessert wines with light bubbles. There are several types of Moscato wines, but the best sweet wines for beginners are Muscat de Rivesaltes and Moscato d’Asti wines.
|Notable regions||Peloponnese region and Greece|
|Aromas||Potpourri, honeydew, pink grapefruit, almond and lemon|
The wine oenophiles recommend drinking Moschofilero while it is young and fresh. Moschofilero is a full-bodied wine with a sweet fruity and crisp taste with lively acidity. Pour a glass of Moschofilero with Greek food, grilled chicken, spicy food, or seafood, and dive into the rich wine taste.
|Notable regions||South Africa and Loire Valley in France|
|Aromas||Yellow apple, peach, persimmon, mandarin orange, passion fruit, lime, and other|
|Also called||Pinot Blanco, Steen, Pineau de la Loire, Savennieres, and Bonnezeaux|
Chenin Blanc has a lot of varieties, but if you are looking for sweet wines, you should opt for flavors of toasted almond, mango, mandarin orange and dried persimmon. The wide spectrum of tastes makes it suitable for sweet and sour meals. You can pair it with meat, cheese, vegetables, and vegetarian food.
|Notable regions||Provinces of Tuscany in Italy|
|Aromas||Honey, caramel, tropical fruit, dried apricot, and hazelnut|
|Also called||Holy Wine and Settimana Santa|
Vin Santo is a dessert wine with a sweet, rich taste. The wine comes in a variety of colors, from pale to dark amber. Vin Santo is made out of dried grapes which contribute to the wine’s sweetness. Drink it in small portions and pair it with blue cheese, tiramisu, dark chocolate, and meat.
Short Reviews Best Sweet Rosé Wines for Beginners
|Notable regions||Australia and California|
|Aromas||Orange blossom, jasmine, melon, fresh berry, peach, and citrus|
|Also called||Moscato Rosa, Moscatel Roxo, Muskat Ruza Porecki, and Pink Muscat|
The Pink Moscato is a fruity and sweet wine with a variety of tropical and floral flavors. Typically, the wine is still or lightly sparkling and is made from a mix of White Moscato and red wine. If you like to add balance to your spicy foods, pour a glass of Pink Moscato.
|Notable regions||Bordeaux area in France, Australia, and the United States|
|Aromas||Fresh berry, nutmeg, cherry, and citrus|
White Merlot is a rosé wine. It is recommended to be served chilled. The wine has a delicate flavor profile with notes of different fruits. The low levels of tannin make it a sweet wine, and also add the berry color to the wine. For the best taste, drink White Merlot with smoked cheese, pizza, mandarin chicken salad, spicy tacos, and shrimp.
|Notable regions||France, United States, Spain, and Germany|
|Aromas||Peach, strawberry, citrus, pear, apricot, sweet cherries, pomegranate, and more|
|Also called||Cava and Sekt|
A rose will fit perfectly with your meal if you fancy sweet sparkling wines. You can pick from light to full-bodied wine varieties according to your preferences. Since the wine has dry acidity, it pairs perfectly with greasy and fatty foods.
|Notable regions||Abruzzo, Marche and Molise regions in Italy|
|Aromas||Red plum, oregano, sour cherry, tar, and boysenberry|
|Also called||Rose version of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo|
Montepulciano is mainly red wine, but it also comes in medium-bodied rose wine variations. It is suitable for beginners because of its rich, fresh fruit flavor and generally affordable prices. The Rose Montepulciano has a refined taste when accompanied by beef Bolognese, pasta carbonara, or lasagna.
|Notable regions||Apulia, California, and Dalmatia|
|Aromas||Jam, black pepper, plum, boysenberry, licorice, blueberry, and cranberry.|
|Also called||Oeil de Perdrix (Eyes of the Patridge)|
The White Zinfandel comes in still and sparkling wine options. It has soft, sweet, and fruity tastes, making it easy to drink for beginners. White Zinfandel is a good sweet wine for pairing with BBQ, Indian food, desserts, lamb, and veggie dishes.
Expert Tips to Get You Started on Your Wine-Drinking Journey
One of the general rules in the wine world is always to try something new. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new sweet wines and explore what types of wines tickle your taste buds. Pay attention to the five wine traits: sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol, and body.
Furthermore, you should take advantage of every situation and talk with experts on the topic. When you are in a restaurant, ask the staff about the finest sweet wines on the menu. Enrich your knowledge by attending wine tastings.
Make a habit of using the proper glass right from the start of your wine-drinking experience. Pour red wines into glasses with a wide rim and a bigger bowl. For white wines, use U-shaped glasses to keep the wine cool.
When it comes to pouring your sweet wine, fill out half a glass of red wine, or if you are drinking a white wine, pour only one-third. Research if the particular wine you are drinking needs decanting or not. Generally, decanting enhances the wine’s flavor and aroma.
Lastly, our golden rule for all wine drinkers – take small sips, swirl the wine in your mouth, and swallow it after a few seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What wine should I get if I like sweet?
The list of sweet wines is long, but we recommend Ice Wine, Port, Banyuls, and Vin Santo. Sweet wines exhibit different fruity flavors so that you can pick a wine variety according to your liking.
What kind of wine is sweet and fruity?
The best fruity and sweet wines for beginners are White Zinfandel, Cabernet d’Anjou, Riesling, Dolcetto, Sauternes, Ice, and Moscato d’Asti wines.
Which wine is easy to drink?
Some wines that are light-bodied and easy to drink are Pinot Noir, Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc, Prosecco, Bondara, and Red Zinfandel.
Trying out sweet wines at the beginning of your wine-drinking journey is an excellent decision. There are a lot of sweet wines for beginners you should try out and explore which wine types you prefer.
Life is too short to drink bad wine. Understanding the characteristics of sweet wines will help you find the perfect one for each meal. Try out different sweet and dessert wines, and explore wines from different regions.