There’s no need to reach for calorically dense desserts next time the mood for something sweet strikes. Instead, look to a glass of sweet red wine to satisfy the craving. Not only will the glass provide more heart-healthy benefits than that stack of Oreos, but you’ll save a bunch of calories as well. Believe it or not, the world of sweet red wines goes much deeper than those semi-sweet California blends on your local supermarket’s shelves. We’ve rounded up the six of our favorite types of sweet reds to kick that craving goodbye; your new favorite nightcap might just be on the list!
Looking for bottle recommendations? See our always updated list of the best sweet red wines!
Born in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, this Charmat-style sparkler is definitely the driest of the sweet reds on this list, but definitely still worthy of mention. Fizzy, frothy, and insanely fruit-driven, this is a perfect sweeter-style red to pair with pizza, patios, and really any situation that asks for a fun, low-alcohol wine.
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This slightly sweet sparkler also comes from Italy, though Brachetto finds its home in the northwestern region of Piedmont. Made in both spumante (sparkling) and frizzante (slightly sparkling) versions, this sweet sparkler is often compared to Lambrusco, though with a more Moscato-like mouthfeel.
Unlike the lower-alcohol sparklers above, be prepared for a little more punch from the following wines on the list. Ruby port, like the other wines below, are classified as fortified wines, meaning distilled grape spirit is added to the wine, raising the alcohol content of the final product. Ruby port undergoes fortification mid-fermentation, halting the process and killing the yeast, therefore leaving tons of residual sugar in the mix. Perfect as an after-dinner sipping wine!
While Ruby Port tends to be darker and more viscous, tawny port undergoes a longer aging process, allowing the wine to slowly oxidize in wood, therefore lightening the color to a more copper-brown hue and pronouncing flavors of caramel and nuts. You can never go wrong with a tawny port in our book.
Maury is an appellation for fortified wine found in the Roussillon region of southern France. Like port, Maury is also fortified during fermentation, killing yeasts and leaving a bunch of sugar behind. The wine must be made from a minimum of 75 percent Grenache, with Syrah, Muscat, Macabeu, and various other local varieties permitted. Pair with chocolate-based desserts for a seriously indulgent pairing.
Like Maury, Banyuls is a fortified French wine that also finds its home in the Roussillon region of southern France. While Maury sits slightly inland, Banyuls sits right on the salty, turquoise coast of the Mediterranean. Like port and Maury, Banyuls is also fortified mid-fermentation, though a minimum aging period of only 10 months is required. Alcohol levels tend to be lower in Banyuls (around 16 percent) than Port (around 20 percent). Serve with dark chocolate for an out-of-this- world pairing.