Choosing a Sweet Red Wine

There are not many kinds of sweet red wine. Most are blush or rosé wines, which are made from red grapes that have been peeled before fermentation.

Ice Wine

Ice wine (also called Eiswein - same pronunciation) is made from grapes that are left on the vine into the winter.

The grapes are picked and pressed while frozen, and make a terrific sweet wine that is perfect for dessert.

You can drink this by itself, or use it as a syrup. It tastes great as an extra treat on ice cream.

Fortified Wines

Fortified wines are sweet wines that have brandy or grape spirit added to them.

These wines stay sweet because the added alcohol incapacitates the yeast, leaving unfermented sugar in the wine.

These wines were very popular for many years in the United States after Prohibition.

Here's a list of sweet wines in this category:

  • Madeira, my personal favorite, and the favorite of George Washington
  • Marsala, which has a nice nutty flavor
  • Sherry
  • Port

Are there any sweet wines that taste good with dinner?

Yes. My favorite is Beaujolais, a French wine. It's a light, fruity wine and goes nicely with just about any meal. Try it with fish, veal, chicken or grilled meat.

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Amarone wine, made in the Veneto region of Italy, is a sweet wine that tastes great with red meats and hard cheeses. It is quite a good deal at under $20 a bottle!

I also enjoy Red Moscato by Beringer Vineyards. It is a fruity wine that has a wonderful flavor of cherries. You could drink this wine with a light meal or by itself.

Other sweet wines I recommend are:

  • Barefoot Sweet Red
  • Gallo Sweet Red
  • Black Oak Sweet Red
  • Liberty Creek Sweet Red
  • Oak Leaf Sweet Red

What is the best serving temperature for sweet red wine?

How sweet red wine is made:

Some red sweet wine is made by adding grape juice to the wine. This, like with fortified wines, overwhelms the yeast and leaves the wine nice and sweet.

There are various methods to made fortified wines. Sherry is made by adding the brandy after fermentation and goes through a special aging process.

Madeira is made by adding the fortification during fermentation.

Tawny and wood ports are aged in barrels for many years, just like regular red wine. These however, are ready to drink when they are sold.

Vintage ports age for a shorter time period and finish their aging process in the bottle.

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