Sweet Wine Types: How Many Types of Sweet Wine are There?
Sweet wines are typically Moscato, White Zinfandel, Riesling, Port, Sauternes and mead. Mead in particular is sweet & fruity.
It’s fun talking about mead – we’ve got a lot to say! But sometimes it’s worth sharing the spotlight, and with the summer months upon us, sweet wine drinkers are rejoicing.
A perfect warm weather pairing? An ice cold glass of light and flavorful wine. And while drinking said wine might be the easy part, selecting it requires more attention.
We recently discussed the mead classification process and, specifically, how to make it easier. Like mead and beer, wine has many options. After all, variety’s the spice of life, right?
That is, until all those choices become overwhelming!
With this in mind, here’s your free Sweet Wine 101 course. In it, we’ll discuss what sweet wine is, and a few of the different types of sweet wine available to you. Let’s get started!
What is Sweet Wine?
As the name suggests, a sweet wine is one that’s sweet in taste. Seems like a no-brainer, but that’s the simple contrast when thinking about wine in one of two ways: sweet or dry.
Many people also look at wine in terms of color. While a lot of white wine is considered to be sweeter than red (and white wine over ice is definitely the poolside choice), it’s important to understand that both red and white wines can be sweet or dry.
In the end, a wine’s sweetness is dependent upon it’s fermentation. How much sugar is left over? If there’s less than 1%, the wine is considered dry. Greater than 1%, and you have yourself a sweet wine.
Types of Sweet Wine (see sweet wine chart below!)
Note that this list isn’t exhaustive and, in large part, doesn’t consider the subtle sweetness of many red wines. It is, however, a great starting point for anyone looking to extend their palate to sweet wine. There are several types of sweet red wine, sweet rose wine and sweet white wines.
1. WHITE ZINFANDEL
White Zinfandel is a popular sweet wine and, interestingly enough, is actually pink in color. It tends to be on the upper end of the “sweet” scale and comes packed with fruity flavors. Made with Zinfandel grapes, white Zinfandel is considered a rosé wine which was invented by Sutter Home Family Vineyards winemaker Bob Trinchero in 1948. Try a white zin here.
Moscato comes in both red and white (plus, you might be familiar with the “Pink Moscato”). This is fruit-flavored to the max, with a flavors like sweet peach, orange blossom and nectarine. It also comes in three different “textures,” so to speak. That is, still (like most wines), slightly sparkling (or frizzante), and sparkling. If you’re one for carbonated alcoholic beverages, Moscato is an option. Moscato is made from the Muscat grapes, also used for raisins. Grab one of the most popular bottles of Moscato here.
Riesling is a sweet white wine native to Germany and Switzerland. It comes from the Riesling grape and often has undertones of honey flavor to it. This sweet wine is high in acidity and is seldom oaked. Nab this popular Riesling.
Sauternes is a French white wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux. It’s unique in that the grapes used to produce it are rare and partially “raisined”, which gives it a distinct flavor. Sauternes is an extra sweet dessert wine containing hints of fruit flavor. Peach, apricot and honey are common flavors . Try this popular extra sweet popular dessert wine
5. EXTRA CREDIT: PORT
Unlike the other types of sweet wine we’ve discussed, port only comes in red. Due to it’s richness (some would describe as “thick”), it’s also not something you would probably want to drink on a hot summer day. In fact, port is widely known as a “dessert” wine. It’s high in alcohol content, typically 19%, and high residual (leftover) sugar. It’s a Portuguese fortified wine produced in northern Portugal. There are different types of Port including Tawny, Ruby and White Ports.
6. EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT: MEAD
So maybe we wanted to still say something about mead because, guess what? It’s considered a sweet wine!
We’ve discussed the mead-making process before, but mead is made from honey (no grapes or grains). Mead is gluten free and can be traditional or fermented with fruit or spices for fun sweet fruited wines. Mead can be sweet or dry. Just like wine, mead can be categorized as dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.
One of our award winning meads is made with passionfruit, tangerines and pomegranates and local wildflower honey.
Chart from Wine Folly