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
Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine, that's typically sweet and high alcohol, produced in the Douro Valley of northen Portugal.
Unlike the other types of sweet wine we’ve discussed, port comes in tawny, ruby and white ports. 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.
Port is high in alcohol content, typically 19%, and high residual (leftover) sugar. There are different types of Port including Tawny, Ruby and White Ports.
6. MEAD (also known as honey wine)
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. Learn more about all the types of mead.
One of our award winning meads is made with passionfruit, tangerines and pomegranates and local wildflower honey.
What’s your go-to sweet wine? Something on our list or something else? Curious about trying mead?
Chart info from Wine Folly, redesigned by Batch Mead
Sweet Wine FAQs
What is the sweetest type of wine?
The sweetest type of wine is Sherry - it has the highest amount of residual sugar. The sweetest type of non-grape wine, is mead (wine made from honey, not grapes).
What wines are sweet and fruity?
There are several red and white wines that are sweet and have fruit characteristics, such as Port, Moscato, Riesling and of course, fruit wines. Wine can be made from any fruit or honey. There are several sweet hard ciders (apple wines) and honey wines available from Batch Mead.
What is a good sweet wine for beginners?
Sweet wines for beginners include Moscato, Riesling, Sweet Sparkling Wines and Fruit Wines (like hard cider and mead!).
What type of wine is sweet and not dry?
White wines that are sweet and light are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Moscato. Sweet wines that are stronger are Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala and sack meads (honey wine).
Which is sweeter, red wine or white wine?
White wines are typically sweeter than red wines. Red wine is made by keeping the grape skins in the wine fermentation which adds bitter and tannin notes to the wine. When wine is aged on oak, this can also add oxidation and oaky notes. White wines are made without grape skins and typically aged in stainless steel which maintains the light floral and fruity notes.
MEAD (HONEY WINE) IS A PASSION FOR US
We started Batch Mead in 2019 to leave our Silicon Valley tech careers and pursue our real passion, MEAD!
We love locally sourced honey, apples and other ingredients. We focus on small batches to keep taps rotating and deliver delicious meads and hard ciders.
We believe mead is an experience, and our tasting room reflects all the notes of that ideal experience.
We recently won Best in Show from the San Diego International Beer Festival (2020, 2021 & 2022)! As well as several other wine, beer & mead awards!