For many wine drinkers, sweet wines represent childlike or simple flavors.  This thought can be a stigma, rising from the fact that most beginning wine drinkers enjoy sweet & light wines while long-time wine drinkers move away from sweetness toward dry and complex wines.
Both kids and adults alike, however, still should enjoy the ‘sweet life’.  While kids enjoy Kool-Aid and banana splits, adults prefer more complex desserts like Crème Brulee and dark chocolate flourless tortes with raspberry sauce. All are very sweet, but the craft of creating luscious desserts is lost on kids, even if they enjoy the flavors.
There is a wide variety of sweet wines that have been artfully crafted to be complex.  The finest have delicate, enjoyable qualities or powerfully deep flavors.  Many have historical significance.  To ignore them as a wine drinker is to deny yourself some of the most unique experiences and most ideal food pairings.  It’s simply a travesty to discount the value of sweet wines!  Here’s a short run-down of several of the most popular sweet wines of the world:
Solera for Sherry

A Solera system of barrels used to make Sherry

Port, Madeira and Cream Sherry

Before yeast converts all the sugar to alcohol, extra grape spirits can “fortify” a wine to kill the yeast and leave some sugar remaining in the higher-alcohol result.  The Iberian peninsula is the birthplace of these full-bodied, complex after-dinner wines, where ships destined for the US and Britain were once filled with the stuff!

Each of these three selections has a different and unique production method.  Find out more about: Port, Sherry or Madeira.

Moscato & Brachetto

In Piedmont in northern Italy, Muscat and Brachetto grapes respectively create this pair of white and red semi-sparkling summer dazzlers.  Moscato d’Asti has a pear and apricot flavor profile while Brachetto delivers with Strawberry, raspberry and rose notes.  Drink them with fresh fruit and cheese platters at your next picnic.

Ice Wines

When grapes are left on the vine during the season’s first frost, the resulting juice squeezed from the frozen fruit is decadently sweet – a result of the water ice staying frozen while the sugary juice (which does not freeze at the same temperatures) flows under gentle crushing.  Canada has built a worldwide reputation for the best ice wines, which are only produced under the strictest regulations.  For more info:  Ice Wines

Botrytis Wines – Sauternes & Tokay


The Botrytis "Noble Rot" mold

Chateau d’Yquem is the most famous wine affected by the Noble Rot mold called Botrytis, yielding a complex and unique taste from the blend of late-harvested Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes in France’s Sauterne area of Bordeaux. It is the historical benchmark for similar wines produced worldwide.

Click here to learn more about Sauternes

Tokaj is a specialty of Hungary made from the Noble Rot grapes and is available in varying levels of sweetness, ranked increasingly sweet with higher “puttanyos” numbers on the label.  The Hungarian Wine Society can tell you more about this elixir.

Dried Grapes – Vin Santo & Recioto

Vin Santo is a product of Tuscany made with partially dried grapes, lending a raisiny quality to the full-bodied and nutty character.  It makes a perfect match to almond and pecan desserts. Recioto is made in the Veneto area of Northeast Italy near Venice, made from the dried  red grapes of Valpolicella.  Its flavors are deeper, richer, and more suitable for chocolate explorations.  Originally, dried-grape wines were invented by the Greeks, who coined the name Vin Santo. 

It’s time for adults to enjoy the sweet tastes

Drying Vin Santo grapes

Drying grapes for Vin Santo

There are many more sweet wines on the market, which pair beautifully with salty cheeses, spicy Asian and East Indian cuisines, fresh fruit as well as sweet desserts. Don’t miss out on your opportunities to experience these complex and unique expressions of the winemaking art as part of your passage through adulthood!