America has a sweet tooth, but when it comes to wine, we tend to shy away from those with high sugar contents. This makes sense considering the slew of one-note, saccharine-heavy bottles on the market, but this category can be a joy to drink and explore. When made well, sweet wines can be among the most complex and age-worthy wines in the world.
The key is balance. Residual sugar in wine (the natural sugars remaining post-fermentation) only works if it is offset by good acidity. And this can only occur if the winemaker has the skills to achieve such delicate harmony.
We love good sweet wine at VinePair, so we went ahead and tasted all of them for you and pared them down to the best the category has to offer. What resulted is the following list of multifaceted bottles bound to infuse your palate with joy. From Michigan to Friuli, Spain to Southern California, here are 13 of the best sweet wines to drink in 2023.
Table Of Contents
Best Sweet Red Wines
Feudo Montoni Passito Rosso Terre Siciliane IGT
Native Sicilian grapes Nero d’Avola and Perricone make up this non-vintage Sicilian passito. It has a raisined aroma along with some dark chocolate, and balsamic vinegar. It’s concentrated, luscious, and would pair beautifully with some Taleggio.
Average price: $48
Best Sweet White Wines
Inniskillin Riesling Icewine
Inniskillin’s claim to fame was an award-winning Vidal icewine in the ‘90s, but this Riesling is a true sleeper hit. With a wonderful nose of caramelized pear and honey, this is as elegant as sweet wines get, with very bright and active acidity on the palate.
Average price: $80
Capezzana Vin Santo di Carmignano Riserva
Vin Santo is almost as old as Tuscany itself, and so is this winery. Tenuta Di Capezzana has been making wine since antiquity and shows no signs of stopping. This Vin Santo will take you back in time, with its dense, caramelized palate and butterscotch-heavy nose. The palate is viscous and balanced with a smooth finish.
Average price: $67
Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise
This wine is so expressive and balanced, it will convert any sweet wine hater. It has a wonderful blush hue and smells like a handful of freshly picked honeysuckles. The palate is balanced and hits all the right spots, inviting you back sip after sip.
Average price: $24
Vigna Petrussa Picolit
Run, don’t walk to find and grab this bottle. It is a prime example of the harmony and complexity this style of wine is capable of expressing. The Picolit grape is reserved only for sweet wines in Friuli, and if this is your first time tasting one, it will set a very high standard. Balanced, subtle notes of caramel and honey on the nose give way to a creamy yet bright palate that will invigorate your senses.
Average price: $60
Kvaszinger Szamorodni Edes Tokaj
The Furmint grape has been made into the sweet wines of Tokaj since at least the 16th century. Winemaker Lazlo Kvaszinger’s family has been doing it since the 19th century, and from the taste of this wine, he is keeping this legacy alive and well. This balanced Azsú has tight fruit with a little spice to liven things up. The natural acidity is so prominent that it adds a layer of textural complexity.
Average price: $36
Mazza Vineyards Late Harvest Vidal Blanc
Vidal is one of America’s most successful hybrids, and Pennsylvania is one of its spiritual homes. The grape makes good dry wine but can really shine in icewine form, like this bottle here. This bottle is deep and sweet with a nice brightness on the palate. It’s not cloying, but rather focused.
Average price: $35
Pollak Vineyards Mille Fleurs
Petit Manseng (from southwest France) and Viognier (from the Northern Rhône) have found a new home in Virginia. Blending the two for a sweet wine, Pollak Vineyards has a gem on its hands. It’s so earthy with some dense honey vibes and a creamy palate that’s begging for local cheeses.
Average price: $30
Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez ‘MR Mountain Wine’
Intrepid winemakers travel the country of Spain seeking out small plots of land and varieties that deserve more attention in the consumer market. Enter “MR,” an excellent sweet wine from the Muscadelle grape. It’s well focused with a wonderful floral, honeycomb nose. The palate is viscous while maintaining a welcome brightness.
Average price: $55
Scheid Vineyards Petit Manseng
Seeing this grape being worked with is an awesome callback to the history of American wine. We are more than the grapes we know, and it’s great when winemakers share that story with us through wine. This southwestern French blending variety is bossing out in this southern California offering. Bright herbs and a nice dose of caramelized pear make up an extremely balanced, cleansing palate — an excellent American sweet wine.
Average price: $34
Mazza Vineyards Pink Catawba
The first American Sparkler was made from the Catawba hybrid grape in Ohio. Here is a modern rosé from the same grape out of Pennsylvania. And what a success! It pops with a sweetness that is immediately countered by lively natural acidity. It’s so good to see our hybrids being coaxed into quality.
Average price: $10
Best Sparkling Sweet Wines
Ivaldi Dario Susbel Brachetto d’Acqui
Can we make Brachetto popular, please? It’s like Moscato’s strawberry-hued cousin from the same hills in Piedmont, and this bottle is such a perfect example. Honeyed fruit with wafts of berries and flower petals carry to the palate, which is soft and frothy with calm bubbles. So good!
Average price: $20
Honorable Mention: Chateau Chantal Bubbly Cherry
OK so, this wine is made not from grapes but cherries. Hear us out: Michigan makes great wines that have popped up on our lists in the past. And while this product is not a traditional wine, it’s so good and so Michigan that we had to list it as an honorable mention. It has notes of cherries (yes, I know) with a good grip and active bubbles. It’s a balanced American Sparkler!
Average price: $18
VinePair’s Tasting Methodology
Throughout the year, VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column, and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to provide a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.
Tastings are not typically conducted blind. In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and the price.
For Buy This Booze roundups, we typically include a maximum of one expression per brand, though we do allow multiple products from the same production facility (i.e., released under different labels).
In creating this list of the best white wines, we took into account various criteria before making our final decisions. Our goal was to showcase a diverse range of wines in different styles and from different regions, at a range of different prices, to best suit every possible occasion.