Of all the wine varieties available, sweet wine is one of the most maligned. In a market dominated by dry varieties, the intense, honied sweetness of wines like Riesling and Moscato have fallen out of flavor. Which is a shame, as modern sweet wines offer a richly rewarding drinking experience that wine lovers would do well not to overlook. There are now hundreds of options to choose from, varying from light, refreshing wines with plenty of acidity to extravagantly rich dessert wines. Whether you're already a committed sweet wine aficionado or a skeptic willing to be converted, you'll find plenty to enjoy on our round-up of the 10 best sweet white wines money can buy.
10. Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile - $61
Riesling can be too sweet for some people's taste, but this delicious offering from Trimbach balances the sweet intensity with a big enough shot of acidity to create a perfect balanced wine. Expect a puff of petrol and kerosene on unbottling and a flavor-packed palate of honeysuckle, pears, lemons, and peaches. Enjoy it alone or pair with seafood or poultry.
9. Château Guiraud Petit Guiraud Sauternes - $33
Sauternes can be heart-stoppingly expensive, but seeking out a second release from the region's top producers is a great way to enjoy the perks without blowing the budget in the process. Château Guiraud is one of the most renowned estates in Sauternes, yet a bottle of this decadent, intensely sweet dessert wine will set you back a paltry $33. Get the most of its rich notes of ginger, honeycomb, and vanilla by pairing it with something spicy.
8. Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise - $34
With heady aromas of orange blossom, lychee, ginger, and rose petal, a complex palate of tropical fruits and florals, and an intense, lasting finish, this fortified wine from Domaine de Durban is an immensely sweet, satisfying tipple that pairs beautifully with rich pastries and cakes. Priced at just $34 a bottle, it's a steal.
7. Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo - $34
Hailing from the sun-kissed vineyards of Tuscany, Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo offers intensity and freshness in equal measure, Made in limited quantities to ensure optimal quality, it delivers a deliciously sweet palate of toasted almonds, honied caramel, and warming vanilla with just enough vibrant acidity to keep things balanced. Traditionally paired with biscotti, it also goes down exceptionally well with sharp blue cheese and dark chocolate.
6. Peter Lauer Barrel X Riesling - $23
If you're not quite ready to immerse yourself fully in the world of sweet wine, dip your toes into the water with this semi-sweet offering from Peter Lauer. Sweet wines can be an acquired taste, but the Barrel X Riesling delivers just the right balance of acidity, fruitiness, and sweetness not to scare newbies. Despite the relatively small price, it's a surprisingly complex wine, with lively notes of green apple and apricot and just a dash of sweet citrus and lime. Although lovely sipped solo, it also makes an excellent partner to spicy dishes.
5. Champalou Vouvray La Cuvée des Fondraux - $26
If you're looking for a well-priced wine with an exceptional pedigree, this delectable offering from Champalou Vouvray ticks the boxes and then some. Despite its bargain price tag of just $26, it delivers an exceptional drinking experience with its well-balanced flavor profile. A fruity, lively wine that tempers its juicy palate of canned pears, tropical fruit and honey with just the right amount of natural acidy, it imparts the essence of summer with each mouthful. Although perfect sipped alone, it also pairs well with fruit-laden crepes.
4. Inskillin Vidal Ice Wine - $119
As winepedia.net notes, ice wine is crafted from grapes that have been left on the vine after the first frost, which results in a higher concentration of sugar than wines made from grapes harvested before the frost. The Inskillin Vidal Ice Wine is a particularly excellent example of the variety, combining juicy aromas of tropical fruit, stewed pear, and honey with a full-bodied flavor profile of fruit and honied caramel. Make the most of its long, honied finish by pairing it with a cheeseboard of strong blue cheese.
3. Vietti Moscato d’Asti - $16
At just $16, a bottle of Vietti Moscato d’Asti won't leave a hole in your wallet. But don't let the tiny price tag fool you. It may be cheap, but this is a very serious wine that connoisseurs would happily pay thrice the price for. Made from organically farmed fruit by one of Piedmont’s most renowned wineries, it's a supremely well-balanced tipple that offsets its candied peach sweetness with just the right hit of acidity. Expect lightly floral notes with a touch of candied ginger. Enjoy it with fruity desserts, sugary waffles, or spicy appetizers.
2. Chateau Doisy- Daene L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne - $219
Chateau Doisy- Daene L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne is an exceptionally sweet Sauternes that gets its honied flavor from highly botrytized grapes, a state that, as escapementmagazine.com explains, is created by infecting grapes with the Botrytis cinerea fungus to cause a kind of 'noble rot' that reduces water content and increases sugar concentration. Indulging in a glass of wine that's been produced from rot-afflicted grapes might not sound like a thrill, but the results are exceptional... hence why you'll be lucky to get any change from around $219 per bottle.
1. Chateau d’Yquem Bordeaux - $502
The price might make you balk, but if you don't mind digging into your savings, you'll find little to complain about with the Chateau d’Yquem Bordeaux. As wine-searcher.com notes, Château d'Yquem is the only château in the Sauternes district of Bordeaux rated as Premier Cru Supérieur in the official Classification of 1855... hence the outrageous price (which, lofty though it is, is a fraction of the price of some of the château's past vintages). A rich, honied offering with a subtle aroma of peach skin and white flowers and a velvety flavor profile of orange marmalade, passion front, and just a dash of spice, it's an immensely impressive wine that works hard for every cent of its equally impressive price tag.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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