We all want to sit down, relax, and enjoy a cold beverage after a long summer day at work, school, or wherever we may have been. It is even better when a refreshingly chilled drink is involved. You will agree with me that you feel it move down your throat. Wine lovers know what magic chilled sweet white wines do. You can never go wrong with one just because they are fresh, light, and sweet!
So, what exactly makes a wine sweet?
In winemaking, different actions take place before grapes (which are the primary ingredient) are turned into wine. One of those many steps is fermentation. During fermentation, the grapes’ natural sugars are converted to alcohol through the action of yeast. However, not all these natural sugars are acted upon, and some remain unconverted. These sugars make up what is termed “wine’s residual sugars” content (RS). It is this residual sugar that brings about the sweetness in the wine.
Generally, sweet wines are a perfect finish to a meal, be they white or red. The market availability of sweet white wines is higher compared to their red wine counterparts. It is however very easy to confuse a sweet wine with a fruity one, and many people have fallen victim to this. The simplest way of discerning a sweet wine from a fruity wine is by getting your nose close and tasting. If a wine is sweet, its sweetness will persist in your taste buds.
The tastes and flavors of wine are greatly influenced by the kind and variety of grapes used in their production.
Be sure to also check out “The Most Popular Sweet Wines” to see an array of sweet wines ranging from white to red.
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Sweet white wines that are widely known and consumed
1. Ice wines
It is said that any white wine can potentially be turned into ice wine. Ice wines are made from pressed and fermented frozen grapes from a vine. These grapes are typically harvested in the most demanding conditions of the night. Such grapes are without the botrytis effect.
Farmers must be careful and swift in harvesting the grapes immediately the deep freeze hits. Otherwise, prolonged exposure will affect the grapes’ cell walls and destroy their thaw.
These frozen grapes concentrate their juices and sweetness, and the resulting product is an incredibly rich, ultra-sweet dessert wine. Ice wine is best paired with sweet dishes and chocolate and coconut ice cream desserts, desserts with caramel toppings, cheesecakes and other softer cheeses.
Don’t miss out on our piece “20 Things to Know About Ice Wine” to see more interesting facts about ice wine.
2. Late harvest wines
Famous in Germany and Austria, these white wines are made from grapes that have stayed in the vine long after the first traditional harvest. Such a prolonged stay allows the sugars in the grapes to reach their maximum concentration, thus adding more sweetness to the resulting white wine. Some of the late harvest wines in the market include Husch Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Far Niente Dolce Late Harvest, and Tabali Late Harvest Muscat.
Need more info on the harvest season? Check out “Wine Grape Harvest Season For Newbies” for more on this beginner guide.
Originating from France, Sauternes white wines are made from handpicked Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by noble rot. The botrytis noble rot renders the grapes physically ugly but downright delicious. These grapes yield little juice. The high sugar content in their musts allows them to age perfectly. With age, their color intensifies, hence their range in color (from light straw to a deep gold).
The cold climate in which they are grown coverts the grapes to raisins and infuse a chalkiness. With a prolonged aging time, sauternes wines’ color darkens. It starts with a pale yellow to straw yellow and eventually could take up a light brown with time.
Because of their labor-intense (hand picking) and low yield, their market price can be outrageously high. This kind of wine is the king of all sweet wines. Under this category of wines are Chateau d’Yquem, Guiraud, Rieussec, and Suduiraut Sauternes wines.
Just like Sauternes, this sweet Hungarian dessert white wine is made from Hungarian Furmint grapes that are botrytis-affected, with noble rot. Its production dates back to the 1530s. Tokaji is a designated controlled appellation that is only allowed to be used by Hungary and Slovakia as a brand name. The botrytis mold in the grapes concentrates grape sugars and flavors into honeylike sweetness. It is known to have been serving royalty for the longest time.
It has sweet and caramelized flavors that are excellently paired with fruity desserts, creamy cheese, and sumptuous cakes.
Be sure to also check out “Light, Medium, & Full Wines: Body Definition Explained” to see different kinds of wines and their body definition.
Unlike most wines, Riesling wines are consumed when young. Some of the best-known Riesling wines are from Germany and the Alsace region of France. They can also be found in Australia, and parts of the United States. Riesling can either be dry white wine or a sweet dessert white wine. It usually is much lighter than its Chardonnay counterparts with fresh apple aromas.
Riesling wines have a rich mineral flavor that leaves a distinct terroir (the earth in which the grapes were grown) after-taste.
Riesling wines have a great balance of both sugar and acidity and thus can be paired well with a variety of dishes. They are best paired with spicy foods like the Indian, Japanese, and Asian cuisines. Riesling also works well with Tuna, Salmon, pork, fish, and other Asian dishes. Some of the sweet Riesling wines include; Beerenauslese, Eiswein, Spätlese, Auslese, Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA), Horse Heaven Hills Eroica Ice Wine Riesling and St. Clair Riesling.
Check out “Uncorked: Auslese Riesling” to keep up with our UNCORKED series and read on about this specific wine grape.
6. Vin Santo
This Italian white wine is also known as Straw wine. It earns its name from the method employed in its preparation. Water from the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes is evaporated by laying them on straw mats. This yields sugar-concentrated grapes which are later pressed and fermented. In this category are the San Giusto a Rantennano Vin Santo, Bellini Vin Santo, Felsina Vin Santo, and Il Poggione Vin Santo.
7. Moscato (spelled as Muscato at times)
Originally from the Piedmont region in Italy, Moscato is also produced in other countries like France, Spain, and Portugal. Moscato white wine is made from the Muscat grapes that are rich in a sweet floral peach and orange blossom aroma. Muscat wine has an irresistibly unique floral, ripe stone fruit character that makes it a great accompaniment to almost every dish and fruit-based dessert.
The Moscato grapes are rich in sugars and flavonoids (antioxidants) and can be eaten raw, dried into raisins or used in the manufacture of sweeter style wines. Moscato wines are best served chilled and well paired with Asian foods, vegetables, and other spicy foods as the sweetness in the wine offsets then spiciness. It matches well with light or mild fruit or creamy desserts. Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise and Moscatel Sherry fall in this family.
8. Sauvignon blanc
This France-born light-bodied white wine is full of herbal flavors and smells like freshly cut grass with a nice peppy acidity that is quite refreshing when served as a glass of lemonade. It is best paired with pork, turkey, and herbs like parsley, basil, and mint.
Need some tips on choosing the correct wine for your beginner palate? Check out “Beginner Wines that You Need to Try” for more.
9. Oak chardonnay
Spelled as “Shar-do-nay,” this France-born white wine is probably the most prevalent white wine globally. It is made from the Chardonnay grapes that can be grown in viticultural areas under diverse climatic conditions worldwide. This kind of wine has been aged in an oak barrel and has the rich vanilla flavor from the oak barrel. It is best paired with foods like bold dishes like chicken breasts, yellow squash, fish, and parsley.
10. Unoaked Chardonnay
Just like Oak Chardonnay, this kind of wine originated from France. However, instead of oak barrels, it is aged in either a stainless steel tank or a neutral oak barrel for just a short time and therefore contains not the rich vanilla, coconut and toffee flavors the barrels impart on wines.
This is a kind of fortified wine that is produced in southwest Spain’s “Sherry Triangle” from white wine grapes. Sherry is versatile and can be extra sweet or dry depending on the style. Pedro Ximénez is one of the overly sweet styles in the Sherry family.
Born in the Bordeaux region of France, Semillon is produced from overripe Sémillon grapes. The grapes are often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to create a sweet syrupy, full-bodied wine. Sémillon grapes are also is also grown in parts of Chile, Australia, California, and Argentina. Semillon has many names in the market, depending on the region they are found. It is also referred to as Hunter, Boal/Bual of Madeira, Malanga, Chevrier, Columbier and Blanc Doux. It is well-paired with fresh kinds of seafood like clams, mussels and makes a great pasta salad.
Don’t miss out on our UNCORKED series and take a look at “Uncorked: Semillon” for more on the Semillon grape and the wines that get produced from them.
Know what works for you and go for it. In case you are new in wine consumption, knowing the wide variety of sweet white wines available and taking time to taste this wide array will become something you cherish. Better still, you can always seek help from wine dealers at any store. This will not only allow you a perfect choice for a wine to pair with your food and occasion but will also guarantee you satisfaction, relaxation, and value for your money.
Thank you for reading with us today! Be sure to check out similar articles to improve your wine knowledge like “8 Tips to Host a Great Wine Tasting Party” or even “Best Wines To Make Sangria With (Red & White)“.
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