Wines are made by fermenting grapes. While for the production of red wines whole grapes (skin and seeds) are used, white wines are made with grapes without skin, hence the lighter colour. But what gives white wines a sweet taste, is a short fermentation process. Winemakers intentionally end the fermentation process earlier in order to preserve some of wine’s sugar what gives the wine a sweeter taste. This is especially done with the production of dessert sweet white wines.
There are many different types of sweet white wine which are not necessarily dessert wines. We’ll introduce you to the most popular ones, including a short description and food pairing suggestions.
Riesling grape is grown in Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. It is used for the production of either dry white or sweet white wines. When planted for making sweet white wine, Riesling grapes are harvested late to ensure sweetness. Higher in acid and lower in alcohol, sweet styles of Riesling wines pair well with fresh fruit, soft cheeses and apple and fruit desserts.
Muscato grapes are high in sugars and flavonoids and are used for making sweet-style wines that pair well with a variety of foods. Muscato wines can either be sweet still or sweet semi-sparkling. Sweet Moscato wines are delicious when served chilled what makes them perfect for summer parties. Muscato wines pair beautifully with blue or cheddar cheese, panettone, fruit or creamy desserts and even chocolate.
Sweet Vouvray wines have a golden colour and are vigorous, fruity and fresh. They are characterized by higher acidity levels than dry versions and usually require 4-5 years of bottle aging. Usually sweet Vouvray wines are never aged in oak but in traditional steel tanks and are popular both as a still wine and as sparkling wine. Sweet Vouvray wines pair well with pastry, cakes and soft creamy cheeses.
Chenin Blanc grape originates from the Loire Valley, France, but is today being grown in many other wine-making regions, including South Africa, Spain, Australia and over 12 states across the U.S. High in acidity, Chenin Blanc grapes are usually harvested late in year when the most noble rot is present in the grape. Chenin Blanc sweet white wine pair very well with Mexican food and also with spicy Asian Cuisine.
Sauterness is the king of all sweet wines. And because it carries years of history and prestige, it tends to be expensive. With age, Sauterness wines get darker (start out pale yellow and progress to a light brown). Sauterness wines are best served chilled and pair well with rich dishes like fois gras, cakes, chocolates, crème brulee and with soft to moldy cheeses.