What is the sweetest white wine?

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to a dry versus a sweet wine, however it’s often easier to introduce those newer to drinking wine to one of the sweeter wines. So if you’re looking to get a bottle that will do for someone who ‘doesn’t like wine’ or need something to pair with a dessert course, here are some sweeter varieties that might work for you. 

It’s important to note that relative dryness and sweetness can vary a lot even within a specific type of wine, so it’s important to check the description for the specific vineyard or brand you are looking to purchase from. And while I always think wine makes a great gift, if the person is truly not a wine drinker you might want to look at other types of gifts and also get a deal by redeeming a discount code at Bunches.

In general though, here are the sweetest white wines in order: 

1. Sauternes 

Depending on where you are in the world, this French wine from the Bordeaux region might be difficult to come by. If you are somewhere that has a good selection of French wines, Sauternes are the sweetest of the sweet when it comes to wine. It’s made from grapes affected by something called noble rot, which is a beneficial fungus that concentrates the sugars and flavours in the grape resulting in a very sweet wine. Sauternes tend to have a luscious texture and sweet flavours such as honey  and apricot. Some folks are put off by the idea of drinking wine made from grapes that had fungus, but it does make for an interesting, unique, and certainly sweet wine. 

2. Ice Wines

If you can’t get past the fungus part of Sauternes or just plain can’t find it in your part of the world, then the next sweetest kind of white wines are ice wines. Rather than a specific varietal of grape, ice wines are made from grapes that were left on the vine long enough to generate quite a lot of sugar and then freeze. Because the water in the grape is crystallized it creates a more concentrated juice when pressed, which is done while the grapes are still frozen. Since ice wines are so sweet they are popular as a dessert wine, and typically have flavours of tropical fruits and honey. They can also have a touch of acidity.

3. Late Harvest Wines

As the name would suggest, late harvest wines are made from grapes that are left on the vine for longer meaning that they have more time to ripen and develop a higher sugar concentration. If you find that the Sauternes and Ice Wines are a touch too sweet for your palette then a late harvest wine might work for you. They also tend to have a honey or apricot flavour profile.

4. Moscato/Muscat

Rather than undergoing special processing, Muscato or Muscat wine is made from the Muscat varietal of grape which is on the sweeter side. There are a few different styles of moscato wine and they can range from lightly sweet to very sweet, so make sure to check on the specific brand if you want one of the sweeter ones. They typically have lovely floral and fruity aromas such as orange blossom, peach and apricot.

5. Late Harvest Riesling

Why are Rieslings separated from the other late harvest wines already mentioned above? Well, Rieslings tend to be slightly more acidic than other wines, and that can affect how sweet they taste, relatively. Make no mistake though, although they are listed below the other late harvest wines and at the bottom of this list a late harvest Riesling is still plenty sweet. I personally feel that  they are a great ‘beginner’s wine’, and if you like them you can experiment with drier whites until you find the right balance.