Sweet wines have fallen out of fashion in the past few decades. Sugar and sweet beverages are health and wellness trends number one enemy. Still, like desserts, there’s always room for a sweet treat now and then, and sweet wine is just that — a treat for your senses.
What are the best sweet wines in the world? There’s no doubt all sweet wines are enjoyable, and it’s not easy to say one is better than the others. Still, some dessert wines are on another level — they’re not only popular but legendary! Here are the best sweet wines in the world.
Sauternes is a French appellation that protects a unique sweet wine style in Bordeaux, the land of age-worthy red wine. Sauternes, though, is not red but golden.
This unique wine is possible thanks to the region’s climate. The moisture and warmth are ideal for allowing a rare fungus to grow — the famous botrytis cinerea fungus or noble rot. This fungus grows in the grapes and leaches the water out of the fruit, leaving their precious sugar and acidity behind.
Make wine with these fungus-infected grapes, and you get a lusciously sweet wine you can enjoy for decades. Sauternes is pricey since grape growers must pick the fruit by hand — grape by grape!
Tokaji is a sweet wine from Hungary. Again, the wine benefits from the noble rot. Here, producers are a bit more creative in the winery — they combine botrytized grapes with healthy fruit. The ratio between fungus-infected fruit and regular grapes determines the wine’s sweetness. Unlike Sauternes, made with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Hungarian producers make this sweet nectar with the local Furmint.
This is one of the most exclusive sweet wines in the world. So much that, back in the day, the Czar used to have his Russian Imperial Guard protect the Hungarian vines and their resulting wines to ensure he never ran out of the golden wine.
3. Ice Wine
Ice Wine is a rare sweet wine only possible in the world’s coldest wine regions, like Germany and Canada. Here, winemakers don’t rely on a fungus to sweeten their grapes, but on the winter’s cold.
To make ice wine, producers leave the ripe fruit hanging on the vines until the first winter frosts freeze the fruit solid. The committed grape growers then pick the grapes and press them to separate their sweet juice from the ice shards, resulting in incredibly sweet grape juice — just what they need to make decadent sweet wine. Ice wine is often made with Vidal or Riesling grapes, and it’s costly; you can surely figure out why!
Care for Something Sweet?
The sweet wine styles above might be the most popular worldwide, but there are many others. This is just the tip of the iceberg. From fortified wines to late harvest specialties, there’s a sweet wine for every palate, budget and occasion.
Make sweet wine part of your life and pair it with your favorite desserts (sweet wine pairs nicely with savory food, too). In fact, dessert wine is a lovely stand-alone dessert in its own right. Try sweet wine, and you’ll never look back. If there’s something more enjoyable than a glass of sweet wine, we don’t know what it is!