17 Best Sweet White Wine

sweet white wine

So, some may think sweet white wine is only for beginners. But it’s quite the contrary for some sweet white wines. 

For example, Chateau Yquem is the most expensive white wine ever sold at $117,000. Again it’s NOT a red wine, AND it’s very sweet!

Table of Contents

White Wines Sweetness Chart

Below is a chart showing the different sweetness levels for white wine (bone dry to very sweet white wines).

white wine sweetness chart

What Are the Best Sweet White Wines?

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Hermann J. Wiemer late harvest riesling 2019

This late harvest sweet wine is fantastic. It has tropical fruit aromas along with peach, apple, pear flavors with lots of honey. It is a very well structured and balanced wine with subtle minerality that underscores its fruity and delicious finish!

Tasting Notes: Honey, peach, apple, apricot, minerals

sweet wines

This sweet wine with slight effervescence is perfect for those who love to enjoy a glass of something sweet, fruity, and slightly bubbly.

The taste starts off with flavors that are similar in nature as an apricot, pear, and peach before honey comes into play at the end making this drink very satisfying! 

Tasting Notes: Apple, pear, peach, honey, citrus

sweet wines

This sparkling wine tastes sweet but has refreshing fruit flavors with notes of pear, apricot and peach. And it has sweet flavors of honey. 

The residual sugar and acidity balances out well in this slightly sweet wine. 

Tasting Notes: Peach, honey, lemon, apple, pear

sauternes

The color of this slightly sweet wine is a darker yellow, and it tastes like honey with ginger. It has an orange marmalade flavor as well as apricot in there too! This is a good Sauternes French wine especially for the price! 

Tasting Notes: Honey, ginger, apricot, orange marmalade

sweet wine

Located on the beautiful volcanic island of Santorini and produced by one of the largest wine cooperatives in Greece.

This is one of the best sweet dessert wines I’ve tasted. It has flavors that are rich and inviting. From raisin to dry figs to dried fruit with just enough sweetness from honey – it will make you want more!

Tasting Notes: Raisin, dried fig, dried fruit, honey

white port

This white port is an extremely sweet wine. It has the characteristic of honey, stone fruit, and apricot on the nose. And the wine drinking has a slightly nutty flavors too it that finishes with an orange note. 

Tasting Notes: Honey, stone fruits, apricot, orange, and nut flavors

Dow's fine port

From one of the great Port houses in Portugal, this white port wine is a refreshing, crisp and bright dessert wine with a higher alcohol content. A great sweet wine to enjoy on its own, as an aperitif, or as the perfect pairing for food!

Tasting Notes: Apple, honey, apricot, ginger

sweet rieslings

The Harvest Select Riesling is one of the sweeter wines from this large winery. But this late harvest sweet wine shows a lot of the fruit flavors you find in Washington wines with flavors of honey, peach, apple, and citrus. 

Tasting Notes: Honey, peach, apple pie, citrus, lemon, minerals

sweet wines

Washington is known for making a lot of this white wine grape. And this sweet wine is no different.

It has a light, fruity flavor that is perfect for summer. The hints of honey and pineapple provides an elegant touch.  And the balance between the crisp acidity and residual sugar gives this wine a nice semi sweet crisp finish.

Tasting Notes: Pear, pineapple, peach, honey, tropical fruit

sweet wines

One of the more accessible and affordable sweet white wines on this list. This sparkling wine is the perfect drink for any occasion. It has a refreshing, sweet wine flavor that will have your friends asking “Where did you get this from?”

And with its hints of peach and lychee in every sip – it can’t be wrong because it tastes sweet!

Tasting Notes: Pear, peach, apple, honey, lychee, melon

vietti moscato d'asti

This sweet wine is very good with lots of fruit flavor like peach, pear, and apples. It has an incredible balance with the sweet notes of honey! Another delicious semi sweet sparkling white wine.

Tasting Notes: Pear, peach, tropical, green apple, honey, lychee

trisaetum ribbon ridge riesling

A family-owned winery in the Willamette Valley for Oregon. They make fantastic Rieslings and this one is no different. This is a sweet wine that is not as sweet as the other wines on the list. Probably more of an off dry wine. 

Tasting Notes: Pear, apple, peach, honey, minerals

A sweet German Riesling at a very affordable price. The flavor profile had lots of citrus notes and a slight sweetness. 

Tasting Notes: Citrus, green apple, lemon, tropical 

This sweet wine has an initial note of slate and minerals that open into brighter lemon flavors with tangy grapefruit acidity.

The finish is semisweet as it offers honeyed sweetness offset by delicately salty notes for a refreshing drink you can enjoy any time!

Tasting Notes: Apricot, peach, minerals, honey, petroleum, citrus

Dr. Konstantin Frank semi dry riesling

A classic off-dry (sweet wine) style of Riesling made from the Finger Lakes region of New York. 

Dr. Konstantin Frank is one of the best wineries from the region and make immaculate white wines that can compete against any other wine regions. 

Tasting Notes: Green apple, citrus, honey, minerals, peach

This sweet white wine is a delicate Gewürztraminer, with a hint of floral notes and high acidity to offset the lovely semi-sweet taste. This elegant wine is very approachable and balanced. 

Cavit Moscato

This sweet and bubbly Moscato that can be found at most grocery stores. Cavit is a popular and accessible wine. That doesn’t mean it’s not sweet and delicious. 

What Are the Best Sweet White Wine Varietals?

1) Sauternes

A French white wine from the famous Sauternes area in the Bordeaux region that makes great wines.  Also, the home to Chateau Yquem. And it uses a unique grape variety – rare and partially raisined – giving it a distinct flavor. 

Sauternes is a very sweet white wine with common flavors of honey, peach, and apricot. It can be made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle grapes.

2) Ice Wine

Definitely, Canada’s most well-known wine is made from grapes left to freeze while they are still on the vine. By keeping them frozen concentrates the sugars, giving a smaller yield but a much sweeter wine. Therefore, Ice wine is a very sweet wine, rated 7+ on the sweetness chart. 

Ice Wines can be made from different varietals, including red wines like Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Or white grapes like Vidal and Riesling.

3) Vin Santo "holy wine"

So, this Italian straw wine got its name from laying Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes on straw mats. Thereby, allowing the water to evaporate before fermentation ensures sugar-concentrated grapes are used. And it takes as long as four years to ferment because it’s too sweet.

4) Vinsanto (Greece)

Another famous, naturally sweet white wine made of sundried grapes version in Greece. Instead of straw mats, overripe grapes are laid out under the hot Aegean sun. Therefore, it’s one of the world’s few sweet wines produced without added sugars.

5) Tokaji Aszu (Hungary)

So this sweet Hungarian dessert wine is made from botrytis affected Hungarian Furmint grapes with Botrytis. And it’s been in production since the 1530s, and the sweet wine was served for royalty for the longest time. And it’s a designated controlled appellation, and only Hungary and Slovakia can use Tokaji as a brand name.

6) White Port

It’s a fortified wine from Portugal  – with distilled grape spirit added mid-fermentation, resulting in a wine with higher residual sugar and alcohol content. Therefore making it one of the most sweet wines. 

7) Moscato

Moscato in Italian, but its also called Muscat Blanc or Muscat grape in Greece – typically known as a sweet dessert wine, the best to drink after dinner to wind down in the evening. And some are made from white and red Moscato grapes, and they can be very sweet with a significantly lower alcohol content than your typical glass of wine. Finally, it may be a still wine, frizzante, or sparkling.

8) Riesling

Always look for bottles labeled “liebliche” for a sweet white wine and “sub” or “suss” for a very sweet higher quality Riesling. 

And for older Riesling bottles, the “Spatlese” label means late harvest, “Auslese” are made of hand-selected grapes with Botrytis, and “Beernauslese” are made of raisinated Botrytis  grapes. 

Therefore, these are all sweet Rieslings, but if you want something sweeter, choose a bottle with labels “Trockenbeerenauslese” or “Eiswein,” the German version of Canada’s ice wine.

Learn more about the different types of Rieslings. 

9) Gewurztraminer

The grown-up or adult version of Moscato with an inherently sweet flavor. Gewurztraminer is a white wine from Alsace is mostly on the sweeter side. 

And look for labels like Vedanges Tardives “VT,” meaning late harvest wines, or Selection de Graines Nobels “SGN,” meaning sweet wines from Botrytis-affected grapes.

What Are Sweet Wines?

residual sugar

If a white wine or sweet sparkling wine contains over 30 grams/liter residual sugar, it’s a sweet wine. And it all comes down to stopping the fermentation process (by different means), so there are still grape sugars left. And drying the grapes, letting them overripe, or using Botrytis also produces sweet wines.

So, they are often called dessert wines because of their sweetness and because they pair well with your favorite dessert!

What Is Noble Rot?

noble rot

Also called Botrytis Cineria – a good fungus that rots or decays wine grapes right on the vines. And it’s when a vineyard full of rotting grapes is a very good thing!

At this time, the fungus causes the fruit to shrivel and look like a raisin while still in the vine. It sounds icky and doesn’t look appetizing at all. But the mold is what intensifies the sweetness and brings out a honeyed character. It’s a natural wonder behind the best and most expensive white wines!

And just FYI, Botrytis tends to happen in parts of a vineyard closer to the river.

Wines like Tokaji from Hungary, Sauternes from Bordeaux, and German “Beerenauslese” and “Trockenbeerenauslese” Rieslings all uses noble rot grapes. So, the next time you enjoy sipping a glass of these sweet wines, you know the secret ingredient!

What Is Late Harvest?

Late harvest means grapes were left in vines long after their peak ripeness or after the initial traditional harvest. After, the prolonged stay allows the sugar in grapes to reach maximum concentration – more sugar means sweeter wine.

And late harvest wines made of white grapes – Moscato, Riesling – typically have a gold color and ranges from sweet to very sweet white wines. So they can be light-bodied to full-bodied depending on the grape variety used. Therefore, they make ideal dessert wines!

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