Welcome to the world of sweet white wines, where a symphony of flavors and production methods come together to create a delightful experience for your taste buds. Prepare to embark on a journey through the realms of Moscato, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier, each with its own unique story to tell.
Table of Contents
- Explore the captivating flavors of sweet white wines like Moscato, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and more.
- Pair them with spicy foods, desserts & cheese platters for an unforgettable experience.
- Get budget friendly options or luxury selections – just make sure to store & serve your wine correctly!
Sweet White Wine Production Methods
Creating deliciously sweet white wines is an art form, with winemakers employing various techniques to achieve the perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, and flavor. Some of the most common production methods include late harvest, noble rot, ice wine, and fortified wines.
These methods transform the humble grape into a sweet, aromatic wine that will leave you wanting more. Of course the opposite of sweet is dry, and if you are interested to learning more about the driest white wine I’ve got you covered there as well.
Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to late harvest wines. By allowing the grapes to stay on the vine longer than usual, winemakers give them the opportunity to ripen further and develop a higher concentration of sugar. The result is a deliciously sweet wine with complex flavors that captivate the senses.
King Frosch ‘Noble Sweet’ Chardonnay Spätlese is a shining example of late harvest wine. This unoaked, full-bodied Chardonnay boasts intricate flavors and a buttery overtone that leaves a lasting impression on the palate.
Another notable late harvest wine is Tokaji Asz, a sweet white wine from Hungary made from grapes affected by noble rot and harvested late in the season.
Noble rot, or Botrytis cinerea, is a type of fungus that has a surprising benefit when it comes to sweet wine production. Affecting grapes such as Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle, noble rot causes the grapes to shrivel, concentrating their sugar, fruit acids, and minerals. The result is a wine with a unique sweetness and complexity that sets it apart from its counterparts.
Sauternes, a sweet white wine from France, is a prime example of a wine produced using the noble rot method. With its enticing aromas of honey, apricot, and citrus, and flavors of dried apricot, candied orange peel, and caramel, a glass of Sauternes is a true delight for the senses.
Another notable noble rot wine is Tokaji Asz, which boasts a rich history dating back to the 1600s.
Mother Nature plays a crucial role in the production of ice wine, a sweet white wine made from grapes left on the vine until they freeze. The freezing process concentrates the sugars in the grapes, creating a delectable, sweet nectar that is then carefully pressed and fermented. Due to the challenges in producing ice wine, it often comes with a higher price tag and is usually served as a sweet dessert wine.
Inniskillin Vidal Icewine is a popular choice for those seeking a taste of this luxurious wine. Its flavor profile is a delightful medley of tropical fruits such as orange, mango, and lemons, combined with hints of peach and apricot, all balanced by a crisp and lively acidity.
Pair it with a fruit tart or cheesecake for a truly indulgent dessert experience.
Taking sweetness to new heights, fortified wines are produced by adding a high-alcohol spirit to the grape juice during fermentation, stopping the process before it is complete and preserving the wine’s residual sugar. This method creates a sweet, rich, and intense wine that is perfect for sipping after dinner or pairing with delectable desserts.
A prime example of a fortified sweet white wine is the 1971 C. da Silva Dalva Golden Colheita White Port, with its exotic flavor profile of honeydew, peach, and a touch of vanilla.
Another luxurious fortified wine is the 2002 Avignonesi Occhio di Pernice Vin Santo di Montepulciano, offering delightful aromas of caramel, maple syrup, candied orange zest, and dried dates, with a super smooth palate and a long finish.
Popular Sweet White Wine Varieties and Their Flavor Profiles
Each sweet white wine variety brings its own unique personality to the table, with distinct flavor profiles ranging from delicate floral notes to bold, tropical fruit flavors. Among the most popular sweet white wine varieties are Moscato, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier.
Let’s dive deeper into the world of these captivating wines and explore their individual characteristics.
Moscato, made from the Muscat grape, is known for its vibrant fruit flavors, including mandarin, lemon, pear, and orange blossom. The naturally high sugar content of the Muscat grape lends Moscato its signature sweetness, which can range from slightly sweet to very sweet, depending on the winemaking process.
Moscato d’Asti, a popular Italian Moscato, is a prime example of this delightful variety, offering a crisp sweetness that enchants the palate.
Riesling is a versatile white wine that can be either dry and crisp or sweet and rich, depending on the winemaking process and the region in which it is produced. With its green apple, pear, lemon, and honey notes, Riesling offers a delightful balance of sweetness and acidity that can appeal to a wide range of wine lovers.
Late harvest Rieslings, in particular, showcase the grape’s ability to achieve a luscious sweetness that is perfect for pairing with desserts or sipping on its own.
Gewürztraminer is a unique and aromatic white wine grape variety with pink skins, producing wines with powerful aromas and flavors of lychee, rose petals, Turkish delight, tropical fruit, and perfume. Grown in regions such as Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, Gewürztraminer wines can be made using late harvest, noble rot, and ice wine methods, resulting in a sweet and intensely flavorful wine that pairs beautifully with spicy dishes and desserts.
Chenin Blanc is a versatile white wine grape variety, producing wines that can range from bone-dry to very sweet. With its juicy aromas of white peach and green apple, Chenin Blanc offers a deliciously fruity wine that is perfect for pairing with spicy foods, seafood, salads, and fruit-based desserts.
Produced mainly in South Africa, Chenin Blanc wines showcase the grape’s ability to achieve a delicate sweetness that is both refreshing and satisfying.
Viognier is a full-bodied white wine with a flavor profile similar to Chardonnay, boasting delightful notes of honeysuckle, tangerine, and peach. Although Viognier wines can range in sweetness, they are often off-dry, offering a subtle sweetness that complements the wine’s fruity and floral flavors.
Grown in regions such as France’s Rhône Valley, Australia, Italy, and the United States, Viognier wines are an excellent choice for those seeking a sweet and aromatic white wine with a rich mouthfeel.
I have an entire article dedicated to exploring if Chardonnay is sweet or dry as this is a very common question that I get.
Pairing Sweet White Wines with Food
The versatility of sweet white wines makes them an excellent choice for pairing with a wide variety of foods. From the heat of spicy dishes to the indulgence of desserts, the sweetness and acidity of these wines can complement and enhance the flavors of your meal.
In addition, sweet white wines are a natural match for cheese and charcuterie platters, offering a delightful contrast in flavors and textures that will leave you and your guests craving more.
Sweet white wines, such as Riesling, can be a match made in heaven for spicy foods. The sweetness of the wine can help to temper the heat of the dish while also bringing out the flavors of both the food and the wine.
The key to successful pairing is to consider the spiciness of the dish and choose a wine with a sweetness level that will complement it. For milder dishes, a sweeter wine may be the perfect choice, while spicier dishes may call for a drier white wine to strike the right balance.
Sweet white wines like Tokaji Asz, Sauternes, Moscato d’Asti, and Riesling are perfect for pairing with a variety of desserts. Their luscious sweetness and fruity flavors can complement and enhance the taste of fruit-based desserts like apple pie or peach cobbler, as well as rich, indulgent treats like chocolate cake or crème brûlée.
Choosing a sweet white wine to accompany your dessert can elevate the experience and satisfy your sweet tooth in the most delightful way.
Cheese and Charcuterie
Sweet white wines can also shine when paired with cheese and charcuterie platters. Sauvignon Blanc, for example, pairs beautifully with creamy Brie, while a sharp cheddar can be complemented by a glass of Viognier. For a salty prosciutto, try a Chenin Blanc, and a rich salami can be enhanced by a Pinot Noir.
White sparkling wines are a versatile option that can be enjoyed with any cheese or charcuterie selection, offering a delightful contrast of flavors and textures that will impress your guests.
Top Sweet White Wine Recommendations for 2023
Whether you’re looking for an affordable option to enjoy on a weeknight or a luxury selection to celebrate a special occasion, there are plenty of sweet white wines to choose from in 2023. From the classic elegance of Sauternes and Ice Wine to the delightful charm of Moscato and Riesling, there is a sweet white wine to suit every taste and budget.
To help you navigate the world of sweet white wines, we’ve compiled a list of our top recommendations for 2023, including both affordable options and luxury selections.
For those seeking budget-friendly sweet white wines, Moscato, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier are all excellent choices. Some standout options include California Roots Moscato, offering vibrant fruit flavors and a crisp sweetness, and Husch Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, with its unique aroma and flavor profile.
By exploring wines from lesser-known regions and shopping around for deals, you can discover your favorite sweet white wines without breaking the bank.
For those looking to indulge in the finer side of sweet white wines, luxury selections such as:
- Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes
- Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos
- 2015 Chateau d’Yquem
- 2016 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Eiswein
- 2007 Fontodi Vin Santo del Chianti Classico
- A.R. Valdespino Toneles Moscatel Sherry
- 1976 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese
- 2000 Disznoko Tokaji Eszencia
These high-end sweet white wines are perfect for celebrating special occasions or simply indulging in a truly remarkable wine experience. They offer exquisite flavor profiles and exceptional quality.
Storing and Serving Sweet White Wine
To fully appreciate the flavors and aromas of sweet white wines, it’s essential to store and serve them under the right conditions. Proper storage ensures that your wine ages gracefully, while serving at the correct temperature can enhance the wine’s flavor profile and overall enjoyment.
By following a few simple guidelines, you can ensure that your sweet white wines are enjoyed at their best.
Storing sweet white wine in the right conditions is crucial for preserving its flavor and quality. Ideal storage conditions include a cool, dark place such as a basement, interior closet, or wine fridge, with a temperature between 45 to 65 °F (7 to 18 °C).
Protect your sweet white wines from direct sunlight and fluorescent light, both of which can cause the wine to spoil and alter its flavor profile.
Serving sweet white wine at the optimal temperature can greatly enhance your enjoyment of its flavors and aromas. Sweet and aromatic white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer should be served at around 7-10°C (45-48°F), allowing the wine’s fruity and floral notes to shine.
By chilling your sweet white wines before serving, you can ensure that each sip is a delightful experience for your taste buds.
From the intricate production methods of late harvest, noble rot, ice wine, and fortified wines to the captivating flavors of Moscato, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier, the world of sweet white wines offers a diverse and enchanting journey for wine lovers. By understanding the unique characteristics of each variety and following proper storage and serving guidelines, you can fully appreciate the beauty and complexity of these delightful wines. So raise a glass and toast to the delicious adventure that awaits you in the world of sweet white wines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Riesling is widely regarded as the sweetest of white wines. If you’re looking for a refreshingly sweet white wine, Riesling should be your go-to.
White Moscato is generally considered to be a sweet white wine that typically has notes of peach, apricot and honey. Its light body and sweet taste make it a perfect choice for an afternoon snack or an after-dinner dessert. Enjoy this deliciously sweet wine with friends and family!
Yes, there is a fruity white wine. Bully Hill Sweet Walter White Finger Lakes, New York is a blend of American grape varieties that creates a dessert wine with flavors of fresh white grapes.
Perfect for the white wine lover!