America doesn’t like sweet wine — or we don’t like to admit it, at least. And that’s a strange stance to take, considering that sweet wines — those produced with considerable amounts of residual sugar, and that are typically destined to be dessert pairings — are among the most complex and age-worthy bottles in the world.
Key to the success of such bottles lies not only in their level of sweetness, but in delivering all-important acidity. This stops the wines from feeling cloying on the palate and also unlocks their ageability. Winemakers are able to achieve this balance via a number of different production techniques, which often rely on the specific climatic conditions of their regions. Before you dive into the following list, you can brush up on those and the world’s greatest examples of sweet wine in this guide.
Once you’re up to speed, you’ll be ready to dive into this roundup of blockbuster bottles. With examples arriving from Canada to Chile, made using mystical practices like noble rot and frozen grapes, these wines are a testament to the wonders of viticulture and vinification. Desserts and cheese boards at the ready: Here are 10 of the best sweet wines to drink in 2022.
Best Sweet Red Wines
Dutton Estate Winery Sweet Sisters Late Harvest Syrah 2017
From the Russian River Valley, this 100 percent Syrah late-harvest wine is bold and fruity. Its aromas resemble decadent California red blends with a seasoning of black pepper. Chewy tannins add texture to the palate, where pulsing acidity helps counter the bold sweetness. This sweet wine displays the distinctive profile of Syrah and will appeal to port drinkers. Average price: $25. Rating: 93.
Feudo Montoni Passito Rosso Terre Siciliane IGT
Combining a blend of air-dried Nero d’Avola and Perricone grapes, this non-vintage Sicilian passito wine ages for seven months in oak then one year in bottle prior to release. There’s a raisined quality to its aromas and flavors, which span a broad spectrum of mocha, dark chocolate, blackberry coulis, and balsamic vinegar. With extreme concentration defining each sip, this luscious red will handle intense food pairings, such as stinky blue cheese, dark chocolate, or gamey meat. Average price: $48. Rating: 90.
Schlink Haus Silvaner Eiswein 2018
This German ice wine delivers a captivating drinking experience. Pouring a striking shade of amber, notes of butterscotch and a hint of salinity lead the nose, followed by a sea of sweet, fruity flavor on the palate. A subtle hint of oxidation adds an extra layer to both nose and palate, and suggests hard, aged cheese as an ideal pairing. Average price: $64. Rating: 94.
Best Sparkling Sweet Wine
Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2019
Canada leads the world’s production of ice wine, with the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario providing the majority of the nation’s output. From a pioneering producer with almost 40 years experience in the industry, this sparkling example is made from the hybrid Vidal variety and fermented in pressurized tanks to maintain lively effervescence. Though not the world’s only sparkling ice wine, it is among just a handful of examples, making this something of a unicorn bottling. The wine’s profile lives up to the anticipation, serving floral and orchard fruit notes on the nose, and bright, persistent acidity that cuts through its velvet mousse. Gift this to the special wine geek in your life. Average price: $90. Rating: 94.