What White Wine Is Sweet

Talking about white wine, how sweet it is greatly influences its taste and overall enjoyment. Being a fan of wine myself, I lean towards white wines that are on the sweeter side. In this article, …

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Talking about white wine, how sweet it is greatly influences its taste and overall enjoyment. Being a fan of wine myself, I lean towards white wines that are on the sweeter side. In this article, we will delve into what makes white wine sweet and share some of my favorite selections in this sweet wine segment.

Understanding Sweetness in White Wine

The sweetness in white wine is attributed to residual sugar, which refers to the natural sugars that remain in the wine after fermentation. During the winemaking process, grape juice is converted into alcohol by yeast in a process known as fermentation. However, not all of the sugar is converted, and the remaining sugar contributes to the sweetness of the wine.

Winemakers have varying methods to control the sweetness level of white wine. Some opt to halt fermentation early, leaving more residual sugar and resulting in a sweeter wine. Others may use late-harvested grapes, which contain higher sugar levels, or employ the addition of sweetening agents to enhance the sweetness of the wine.

Popular Varieties of Sweet White Wine

Now that we have a basic understanding of sweetness in white wine, let’s explore some popular varieties that are known for their delightful sweetness:


Riesling is often hailed as the queen of sweet white wine. Originating from Germany, this aromatic wine is known for its fruity flavors and honey-like sweetness. With its perfect balance of acidity, Riesling offers a refreshing sweetness that pairs well with spicy or savory dishes. Whether it’s a late-harvest Riesling or an ice wine, this variety is a surefire hit for those with a sweet tooth.

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Moscato, originating from Italy, is another beloved sweet white wine. Its light, effervescent nature and notes of tropical fruits make it an ideal choice for warm weather or as an aperitif. Moscato’s lower alcohol content and pronounced sweetness make it an approachable and enjoyable wine for those who prefer a sweeter taste profile.


Gewürztraminer is a complex and aromatic white wine that displays an enticing combination of sweetness and spice. Hailing from Germany and Alsace, this variety offers vibrant floral aromas, lychee flavors, and a touch of sweetness. Gewürztraminer’s sweetness can be balanced by its higher acidity, making it a versatile wine that pairs well with a range of cuisines.

My Personal Favorite: Sauternes

While there are many delightful sweet white wines out there, my personal favorite has to be Sauternes. This French wine is made from grapes affected by noble rot, a beneficial fungus that concentrates the sugar and flavors in the grapes. The result is a luscious and complex wine with rich honeyed notes, apricot flavors, and a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Sauternes is a true indulgence and pairs beautifully with foie gras, blue cheese, or a simple dessert.


White wine lovers who appreciate a touch of sweetness have a wide array of options to choose from. From the floral and fruity charm of Riesling to the refreshing effervescence of Moscato, there’s a sweet white wine to suit every palate. So raise your glass and savor the delightful sweetness that these wines have to offer.

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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