Sweet wine is often referred to as dessert wine but we use the category sweet to include dessert wines, Moscato style wines or any sweet wine.
According to Wine Folly (2016), there are five different categories of sweet wine
1. Sparkling Dessert Wine
2. Lightly Sweet Dessert Wine
3. Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
4. Sweet Red Wine
5. Fortified Wine
Sweet wine is produced with extra sweet wine grapes. In order to make them sweet, the fermentation is ceased before the yeast turns all the natural grape sugar into alcohol. There are several ways to stop the fermentation, including super-cooling or adding brandy to the wine. Both methods create an environment where yeast won’t survive. A typical sweet wine contains only 7-11% alcohol. Certain grapes such as the Muscat variety have inherent sweetness in their natural aromas, making them perfect for sweet winemaking. (Wine Folly 2016)
Sweet wine should be matched with sweet food – a Crème brûlée for example! Dessert wines often come in a smaller 375mL bottle as a single glass is enough to immerse yourself in the indulgence of a dessert wine; and dessert wines are meant to be enjoyed in a small glass.
Sparkling Dessert Wine
Sparkling dessert wines are not common in Australia. They are typically found in France or Italy. A French Sparkling dessert wine will have Doux (‘sweet’ in French) on the label and an Italian Sparkling dessert wine will have Semi Secco (‘off-dry’ in Italian) or Dolce (‘sweet’ in Italian) on the label.
Sweet Dessert Wine
Gewürztraminer is a sweet wine that is often produced in Australia and New Zealand. A very special variety that is simply magic when the winemaker gets it just right – intensely perfumed with lychees and rose petals. We do sell a certified organic Gewürztraminer from renowned Te Whare Ra in the Marlborough region of New Zealand but you have to be quick as each vintage typically sells out within a couple of months of release!
Late harvest means exactly that. As grapes hang on the vine longer they become even sweeter and more raisinated, resulting in a wine that has a higher residual sugar (or alcohol, depending on how long you let it ferment). (Wine Folly 2016). We sell an amazing certified organic late harvest Riesling from 5 Red Star Winery Mount Horrocks – heaven that comes in a wonderfully shaped 375mL bottle!
Noble rot is a type of spore called Botrytis cinerea that rots fruits and vegetables. While it sounds and looks disgusting it adds a unique and highly sought-after flavour of ginger and honey in wine. (Wine Folly 2016). We sell a certified organic richly sweet wine made with Noble rot. It’s from renowned Tamburlaine in the Hunter Valley and it’s known as Noble Chardonnay. An unexpected pleasure!
Grapes are laid out on straw mats to raisinate before being pressed into wine. (Wine Folly 2016).
Richly sweet wines are made with the highest quality grapes in an unfortified style. Many of these wines can age 50+ years because sweetness and acidity preserve their fresh flavour. (Wine Folly 2016).
Sweet Red Wine
Sweet red wines are not common in Australia. They are typically found in Italy. Lambrusco being the most famous (or infamous if you prefer) – it’s actually a Sparkling sweet red wine.
Fortified wines are made when grape brandy is added to a wine and can be either dry or sweet. The most famous sweet fortified wines are from Spain – Moscatel (Muscat) which is a sweet sherry with fig and date flavours and Pedro Ximénez (PX) which is a very sweet sherry with brown sugar and fig like flavours.
Please contact us on 1300 659 330 if you’d like us to source a certified organic sweet or dessert wine for you that we don’t currently have in stock.
Wine Folly 2016, ‘5 Main Types of Dessert Wine’ <http://winefolly.com/review/types-dessert-wine/>, viewed 17 December 2016.