Sweetness of Red Wine: A Guide to the Best Varieties and Pairings

Sweet red wine is a type of wine that is known for its rich, fruity flavor and high sugar content. It is typically made from red grapes that have been left on the vine for an extended period of time, allowing them to fully ripen and develop their natural sweetness.

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Unlike other types of red wine, which are known for their dry, tannic flavor, sweet red wine is the perfect choice for those who prefer a sweeter, more indulgent wine experience.

When it comes to pairing sweet red wine with food, there are a few classic combinations that are sure to please the palate. One popular pairing is with rich, dark chocolate, which complements the wine’s fruity flavor and helps to balance out its sweetness.

Sweet red wine can also be paired with a variety of other desserts, including fruit tarts, cheesecake, and crème brûlée, as well as with savory dishes like roasted meats and stews.

What is Red Wine That is Sweet?

Sweet wine is a type of wine that is typically served after a meal as a dessert. There are various sweet red wine types, each with unique characteristics and flavors. These red wines are known for their sweet taste and high alcohol content, making them perfect for sipping and savoring. In this section, we will define sweet red wine, explore its history, and discuss how it is produced.

Defining Sweet Red Dessert Wine

Sweet red wines can be made in two different ways. They can either be made from grapes that are left on the vine longer than usual. This allows the grapes to develop a higher sugar content, resulting in a sweeter wine.

A similar technique is used for the production of Amarone della Valpolicella wine. The Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella red grapes are picked and partially dried to concentrate the flavor and the sugar in the grapes before fermenting the grape juice.

Alternatively sweet red wine can be made by adding spirits to the partially fermented wine. This stops the fermentation and leaves a high residual sugar content in the wine for a sweet taste. This procedure is used for fortified wines like port, madeira, and marsala. These sweet wines are often characterized by their fruity aroma and flavors of raisin, raspberry, cherry, and citrus.

History of Sweet Red Wine

The history of sweet red wines differ based on the way they`re made. You need to discern between red wines to which spirit was added and non fortified wine like Amarone or wines produced based on dried grapes or red wine grapes showing noble rot. These wines are often noted for their dark fruit flavors, which add to their rich and complex profiles.

Fortified wine

Fortified wine has a rich history that spans several centuries, with some of the most famous examples being Port, Marsala, and Madeira. These wines are called fortified because they have additional alcohol added to them during production, which increases their longevity and gives them unique flavors.

Port is perhaps the most well-known fortified wine. It originates from Portugal’s Douro Valley and dates back to the 17th century. The wine was initially fortified with brandy to help it withstand long sea voyages and became popular throughout Europe as a result.

It has to be pointed out that marsala and sherry sweet wines but they are made from white wine grapes but they darken to dark orange or brown when ageing.

Sweet red wines

Non fortified sweet red wines are made by either stopping the fermentation of sugar rich grape juice at an early stage or by increasing the residual sugar content by drying the grapes. The grapes can be either dried on the vine or after they were harvested.

Brachetto d’Acqui, a semi sparkling sweet wine, is produced in the Piedmont region in Italy using dried grapes. This youg, sweet late harvest wine has an alcohol content of just 9-10%. Here the fermentation is stopped at an early stage to keep sufficient residual sugar.

Amarone, an italian wine, is made by drying the grapes to increase the sugar content. The result are dry to sweet red wines with a high alcohol level.

Types of Sweet Red Wine

Sweet Red Sparkling Wines

Sparkling sweet red dessert wine is a type of wine that is carbonated and has a sweet taste. These wines are typically made from red grape varieties and can be enjoyed on their own or paired with desserts.


Lambrusco is a popular sweet sparkling wine that originated from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This wine comes in different types and styles, each with a unique taste and aroma. Lambrusco can be sweet, secco, or semi-secco.

Sweet Lambrusco refers to the type of wine that has a high sugar content. It is made by stopping the fermentation process early to retain its natural sweetness. Sweet Lambrusco has a fruity flavor with notes of berries and cherries, making it an excellent pairing for desserts or as an after-dinner drink.

Secco Lambrusco is dry wine that has little to no residual sugar content. It is crisp and refreshing with a balanced acidity that pairs well with savory dishes such as pizza, pasta, or grilled meats.

Brachetto d’Acqui

Brachetto d’Acqui is a sparkling wine that originates from the Piedmont region of Italy. It is made from the Brachetto grape, which is known for its sweet and fragrant characteristics. The wine has a deep ruby color and a light effervescence that makes it perfect for celebrations or as an apéritif or a mousse au chocolat.

The unique sweetness of Brachetto d’Acqui comes from the fact that it is made using partially dried grapes, which concentrates the sugar content in each berry.

Still sweet red wines

Amarone della Valpolicella wine

Amarone wine is a sweet and luxurious Italian red wine that has captured the hearts of wine lovers worldwide. This full-bodied, smooth and velvety wine is made using a unique technique called appassimento, which involves drying the grapes for several months before fermentation.

Amarone wines are known for their rich flavors, high alcohol content and complex aromas which make them perfect for special occasions or as a treat after dinner as it`s considered to be a fine wine.

Sweet Gamay Noir

Fortified Sweet Red Wines

Fortified sweet red wine is a type of wine that has had a neutral grain spirit, a grape spirit, such as brandy, added to it. This process stops the fermentation process and leaves the wine with a higher alcohol content and a sweeter taste.

Port wine

Port is an exquisite fortified wine that has been enjoyed for centuries. It comes in a variety of styles, but two of the most popular are ruby and tawny port. Ruby port is known for its vibrant red color and rich, sweet flavor. Tawny, on the other hand, is aged in oak barrels to develop a nutty and caramel-like flavor.

Madeira wine

Madeira is a fortified wine that deserves more recognition for its rich flavor and history. This red wine, named after the Portuguese island it originated from, is distinct from other wines due to its unique production process. The grapes are harvested and fermented before being fortified with brandy or neutral grape spirits.

Picture taken from www.winelovermagazine.com

Madeira has been enjoyed for centuries by aristocrats and commoners alike, and was even used to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Its longevity makes it an excellent choice for aging in your collection – some varieties can last over 100 years!

Late Harvest Sweet Wine

Red late harvest wines are a unique and delicious category of wine that deserves more attention. Late harvest wines are made from grapes that have been left on the vine for longer than usual, allowing them to fully ripen and develop their natural sugars. This extra time on the vine results in a wine with a rich, deep flavor profile and a higher alcohol content.

One of the most notable characteristics of red late harvest wines is their intense fruitiness. The extended ripening period amplifies the flavors of blackberries, cherries, and plums, resulting in a wine that is bursting with fruity goodness. Additionally, these wines often have notes of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla due to their aging process in oak barrels.

Red late harvest wines pair wonderfully with desserts such as chocolate cake or fruit tarts. They also make for an excellent after-dinner drink on their own or paired with cheese boards.

Pairing Sweet Red Wine

Pairing with Chocolate

Sweet red dessert wines pair exceptionally well with chocolate, especially dark chocolate. The tannins in the wine help to balance the bitterness of the chocolate, while the sweetness of the wine complements the richness of the chocolate. For those with a sweet tooth, pairing sweet red wines with chocolate can be a delightful experience.

Look for sweet red wines with notes of black cherry, raspberry or blackberry to pair with dark chocolate desserts.

Pairing with Cheese

Pairing sweet wine with cheese can be a match made in heaven. Blue cheese is an excellent choice, as the sweetness of the wine helps to cut through the sharpness of the cheese. Pecan pie with a sweet red wine is another great pairing, as the nuttiness of the pie complements the fruitiness of the wine.

Pairing with other Desserts

Sweet dessert wine can be paired with a variety of desserts, including those with black cherry or citrus flavors. A cherry tart or citrus cake would be a great match for a sweet red wine with notes of cherry or raspberry.

If you are serving a dessert with caramel or toffee flavors, look for a sweet red wine with notes of vanilla or oak to complement those flavors.

Best sweet red wines

Find a small selection of the best sweet red wines based on the different production techniques we explained. Enjoy the best sweet red wines!

Robert Mondavi – Sweet Pinot Noir

Robert Mondavi Sweet Pinot Noir is a delicious wine that combines the sweetness of fruit with the depth of a classic Pinot Noir. This wine has become increasingly popular among wine enthusiasts who are seeking a sweet and fruit flavor that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with their favorite dishes.

The grapes for this wine are harvested from California’s finest vineyards, resulting in a high-quality product that is sure to impress even the most discerning palate.

The aroma of this Robert Mondavi sweet wine is rich and complex, featuring notes of black cherry, raspberry, and vanilla. On the palate, this wine delivers a burst of juicy fruit flavors that are perfectly balanced by hints of oak and spice. The finish is smooth and satisfying, leaving you with a lingering taste that will make you want another sip.

Jam Jar sweet Shiraz

If you’re a wine lover, you know that there’s always something new to discover when it comes to vintage and flavor. One of the newest additions to the list is Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz, which has been impressing wine aficionados all over the world with its unique taste and texture.

This South African wine is made from handpicked Shiraz grapes that have been carefully fermented in oak barrels, resulting in a sweet yet robust flavor profile that is sure to satisfy your palate.

Picture taken from www.jamjarwines.com

What sets Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz apart from other wines on the market is its distinct aroma and taste. You’ll immediately notice notes of dark cherry, blackberry jam, and hints of vanilla when you take your first sip.

Revolution – Late Harvest Red wine

California is known for producing some of the world’s finest wines, and Revolution – Late Harvest Red Wine is no exception. This unique blend combines the bold flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel grapes. The result is a rich, full-bodied wine with complex aromas and flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a favorite among many wine enthusiasts, with its robust flavor profile that includes notes of black currant, tobacco, and spice. Zinfandel, on the other hand, is known for its jammy fruit flavors and peppery finish.

Picture taken from www.revolution-wines.vinesos.com

Together, these two varieties create a balance of sweetness and acidity that make Revolution – Late Harvest Red Wine an ideal pairing for hearty dishes like steak or pasta with red sauce.l

Quintarelli Amarone

Quintarelli Amarone is one of the most iconic wines in the world, renowned for its rich and intense flavor. This wine is made using a unique grape blend that includes Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara varieties. The grapes are carefully selected and harvested by hand to ensure only the best fruit is used during production.

The winemaking process for Quintarelli Amarone involves extended maceration on the skins, which allows for maximum extraction of flavor and color from the grapes. The wine is then aged in oak barrels for several years before being bottled.

This lengthy aging process contributes to its complex flavor profile – notes of dark fruit, chocolate, coffee, and spice combine to create a truly exceptional taste.

Quintarelli Amarone has become a favorite among sweet wine enthusiasts in the wine world due to its boldness and depth of character.

Tawny port

Tawny is a type of fortified sweet wine that has become increasingly popular among wine enthusiasts. This unique and flavorful sweet wine is made by blending different vintages, resulting in a smooth and complex taste. As more people discover the beauty of tawny port, the search for the best brand becomes even more important.

One of the top brands in the tawny port category is Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny. Known for its rich amber color and nutty flavor, this wine has been aged in oak casks for two decades, creating a depth of character that is unmatched.

Another great option to consider is Dow’s 30-year-old Tawny, which offers notes of dried fruit and spices along with a long-lasting finish.

For those who prefer a younger tawny, Sandeman 10-Year-Old Tawny is an excellent choice.

Vintage port

Vintage port is a unique and exquisite drink that has been enjoyed by many for centuries. Its distinct taste and aroma make it the perfect choice for special occasions and celebrations. If you are looking for the best vintage port brand to add to your collection, then this article is for you.

The first brand that comes to mind when thinking about the best vintage port is Taylor’s. This iconic winery has been producing high-quality vintage ports since 1692, making it one of the oldest in Portugal. Their vintage ports are known for their deep ruby color, complex flavors of dark fruit, and notes of spice and chocolate.

What Does Port Taste Like?

Another top contender in the world of vintage ports is Dow’s. This brand creates rich and full-bodied ports with hints of blackberry, cassis, and licorice. It also has a velvety texture that makes it an excellent pairing with cheese or chocolate desserts.


Sweet wines are a delightful way to end a meal or to simply indulge in a sweet treat. With their rich and fruity flavors, they are perfect for pairing with desserts or spicy dishes.

When it comes to sweetness, sweet red wines can range from semi-sweet to very sweet. The sweetness comes from the residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation. Tannins, which are responsible for the dryness in red wines, are typically low in sweet red wines.

Overall, sweet red dessert wines are a delicious and satisfying way to end a meal or to simply indulge in a sweet treat. With their range of sweetness levels, fruity flavors, and health benefits, there is a sweet red wine for everyone to enjoy.

Hi, my name is Christina Day, and I am a self-proclaimed wine connoisseur. It is my favorite alcoholic drink, and I enjoy nothing better than kicking back on the sofa after a long week of work to enjoy a glass of wine… or two!