Sweet White Wine: A Deep Dive

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White wine is fermented without the skin, and it can range in color from straw yellow to gold. The pulp of the grapes undergoes alcoholic fermentation, and white wine has existed for thousands of years. There are many different varieties of white grapes that are yellowish or green in color, and there are in turn many varieties of white wine and a lot of them are sweet, due to residual sugars. In ancient Greece, winemaking was practiced, and often given to patients as medicine. Hippocrates, a physician used two types of white wine a bitter one and a sweet white wine amongst his treatments. In Roman times vines were planted on the banks of rivers to provide the Legions with a healthy drink, as the water was hardly ever drinkable at that time. River trade helped to develop the wine industry further, and the Germans planted along the Rhine and the Danube. The aminium, old-style grape produced a very sweet white wine that resembled a white Madeira in flavor.

Champagne and Moselle

Champagne was created in France in the 18th century, but it did not immediately become popular worldwide

From the 19th century on, people began to embrace white wine, and late harvest white wine grapes in Germany led to the Moselle region producing the wine of the same name. In the champagne region, Veuve Clicquot was one of the early champagnes that made the area famous.

Ways to Make Sweet White Wines

A wine is termed sweet depending on residual sugar levels which are measured in grams per liter with 1% of sweetness equivalent to 10 grams of sugar this is naturally occurring as fructose produced by the grapes. During the fermentation process, yeast converts sugar into alcohol, and the alcohol levels increase with less residual sugar. Therefore a sweet wine can be indicated by the alcohol volume level, so a wine with less than 12.5% ABV will mostly be sweet.

Certain growing conditions promote the sweetness of the wine like Eiswein, Sauternes, Tokaji, and other Late Harvest styles. Late Harvest wines are left to ripen on the vine to reflect their ultimate sweetness. Sauternes and Tokaji are made with grapes affected by a mold called Botrytis Cinera or ‘noble rot’, this gives the wine its distinct flavor.

Types of Sweet White Wine

The Best List

 All of the wines selected are affordable, and most of them can be drunk with everyday food, for all occasions.


a semi-sweet bubbly wine produced from Muscat grapes and tasting of raisins peach and nectarine with orange blossom flavor.

Moscato is an affordable cheap wine, making it really popular with all ages on a budget.


Now a product of many countries, originally from Germany, it tastes like Lychees and pineapple. California now makes an excellent Gewurztraminer, where the climate lends itself to the grape growing process. It is a sweet white wine that tastes great with most dishes.


A sweet white French wine made in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux. The sweet white grape used to make the wine is rare and the final product is made by combining Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscatel grapes. it results in a full-bodied taste of peaches, apricot, and honey. The color is golden yellow and the wine has the potential for aging when cellared.

Tokaji Aszu

The world’s oldest sweet wine was originally grown in Hungary. It is made from grapes affected by Botrytis and the beneficial fungus attacks the grape. This is how the Tokay is made, and it is a popular wine with many European people.

Ice Wine

Is a sweet variety of white wine. It refers to how the wine is being made using techniques where the grapes are frozen on the vine. This is best done in winter, as it should be done naturally to get the right effect. The juice is processed and creates a very sweet white wine. Canada is the largest producer of ice wine in the world.


Made from Italian and Austrian grown grapes. The Austrian grown grapes typically offer a sweet taste, and a glass before dinner is thought to stimulate the appetite.

Grenache Blank

A white form of Grenache with a natural sweetness, and is not acidic to taste. It goes well with most types of food


An Italian grape, very versatile and often used in blends., Very drinkable and can be sweet. A good choice with Italian and other Mediterranean foods. Reasonably priced and light and refreshing in hot weather.

Vinho Verde

This is a Portuguese wine named for a variety of local grapes in northern Portugal. Depending on the wine chosen, it can be quite sweet and is a good choice with seafood.


An Italian variety is not usually seen outside Italy. It is cultivated in the Venetian region where it is popular for its fruity sweetness. Try it when in Italy, with your antipasto


Comes from the Island of Madeira off Morocco, it is a sweet wine that is not too sweet but has high acidity. It goes well with nearly everything, try it with the local food.


Sparkling white wine is produced in the Catalonia area of Spain where a large amount of Spanish wine is made. This is light and sweet and widely consumed in Spain and other European countries. White wines need less heat than red wines to ripen. The taste balance is based on acidity and tannins, and are often grown in rugged mountainous locations.

Pinot Grigio Graffigno Centenario

If you love Pinot Grigio this wine is sweet without being too sweet, has a peaches and apricots aftertaste, and is ideal with seafood

Many of the Pinot Grigio wines have an underlying sweetness to them, making them an ideal change from Chardonnay and other less sweet wines.

Australian Wines

Some of the best sweet white wines are found in Australia, and I will include some of them here.

The Australian riesling varies from dry to very sweet, and when you find a great sweet riesling it will go with nearly everything. The right sweet Rieslings are often found in South Australia’s Barrosa Valley and one of these is:

Hardy’s Siegersdorf Reisling, Clare Valley SA

Not too sweet this is a Riesling to have with seafood and makes the perfect summer wine.

Cherry Tree Hill Reisling

This is a lovely clean slightly sweet riesling that has undergone wild fermentation and is unfiltered making it far more interesting. It tastes slightly floral and may improve with age.

Quealy Pinot Grigio, Mornington Peninsula Victoria

From grapes grown on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, has a soft pear flavor slightly sweet but not too sweet. Ideal with all food types.

Domaine Simha, Rani Tasmania

This is the most expensive wine on the list, as it has undergone wild fermentation and was actually harvested by the lunar cycle. Sounds a bit far-fetched and akin to witchcraft, and it is unfiltered and a very nice wine full of character. This will improve in the cellar, so put some away for a while and see what happens next. Tasmanian wines are now highly sought after and full of character, but due to their remote origins, they are often slightly more expensive.

Ninth Island Tasmania Riesling

Tones of floral, citrus, and other flavors make up the delicate flavors of Ninth Island. To many, it is one of the nicest, not too sweet, Rieslings in

the world. The conditions where the wine is made are at the Southern end of Australia, and this contributes to the overall sweetness of the wine.

Very drinkable now and not expensive, however, if you buy a dozen put some away to see if it continues to improve. It is interesting what the show notes say, as a show judge would work to a given criterion, ‘cold harvested at night, following a brief period of skin contact, the grapes are pressed using fully protective handling to avoid oxidation’ I am not sure how lack of handling affects grapes, however, overhandling could bruise them.

It would appear that grapes can be grown for winemaking almost anywhere, whatever the soil type and rainfall. Most sweet wines taste better with food, and the terms fruity and sweetness should not be confused as there is a difference.

Cooking with Sweet White Wine There is nothing nicer than a glass of sweet white wine with dessert, as it is totally refreshing often after a heavy meal. Sometimes sweet white wine is used when cooking poultry or fish, and the wine enhances the flavor of the dishes and helps to soften and break down the fibers in the meats. It can also be added to fruit desserts to make them taste more exotic like poached pears in white wine or poached lychees. Research studies now show that white wine is full of antioxidants, where once it was thought to be just red wine that was good for us. So white wine also has health benefits, can it get any better than this!

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