How To Pick The Sweetest Red Wine

Hate tannins or have a super sweet tooth? Sweet red wines might be the ideal choice for you. Let's dive into the world of sweet red wines so you can successfully find the sweetest red wines the world has to offer! 

What Is Sweet Red Wine?

Sweet wine is what its name implies: sweet wine. Another name for sweet wine is a dessert wine because it frequently accompanies a dessert course or is consumed in place of dessert after a delicious meal. 

While the definition of sweet wine is not clearly defined, it typically comprises more than 14% alcohol which, in contrast, the average glass of wine is around 11% to 13%. 

How Is Sweet Red Wine Made?

To make this extra sweet wine, winemakers stop the fermentation process from completing; instead of letting yeast convert all of the grape juice's residual sugars into alcohol, they stop it using a distilled grape spirit called aguardiente, leaving a wine that's rich and sweetened naturally. 

While this is one method, there are many techniques to create sweet wines. For instance, fortified sweet wines, such as Port, get their sweetness from grape brandy added to the wine. Doing so makes a wine that has higher alcohol levels, typically around 17-20% ABV. 

Another method of creating sweet wine is ice wine. This process allows the grapes to freeze so that their juice is much sweeter than the average grape

Which Popular Wines are Sweet, Sweet Reds?

Port, red moscato, shiraz, shiraz, sherry dolcetto, and zifandel are all popular sweet red wines. Across this list, you'll find hints of plum and black cherry, dark chocolate and cinnamon, and spices and leather for a diverse and delightful range of palates. That being said, every sweet red wine deserves its day in the sun—Merlot, Lambrusco, Spumante, Brachetto d'Acqui, and any sweet red blend are just some of the options not described below that will satisfy any red wine lover's sweet tooth. 


A Portuguese fortified wine, wines from Portugal are typically sweet red wines in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. These includes Ruby Port and vintage ports like Tawny Port. Pro tip: port wines are incredible with richly flavored cheeses (we're talking blue cheese), chocolate and caramel desserts, salted and smoked nuts, and even sweet-smoky meats. So basically, our favorite things. 

Red Moscato

Created with black and orange Muscat grapes, Red Moscato has the signature Moscato taste and smell with an additional range of fruity notes of wild cherry, berry, and peach. 


Shiraz, also known as Syrah, is known for its peppery, spicy flavors. A wine made for sipping on, Shiraz is an incredibly popular varietal grown in Australia. South African Shiraz will often have myriad dark berry flavors such as raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry alongside hints of chocolate.


Sherry is a fortified wine made with white grapes grown on the coast of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain.


An intensely colored wine, Dolcetto wines hail from northwestern Italy. With earthy undertones and spicy aromas, dolcetto wines are fruity and soft. 


Taste varies considerably based on what wine region produces this wine, but in general, it is nice, juicy, and high in alcohol content. A notable area is California.

How Can I Tell If a Wine Is Sweet?

The primary way to tell if a wine is sweet is by its sugar content. 

Higher Sugar Content, Of Course

While newbie wine drinkers might not distinguish between fruity and sweet wine, there is a significant difference: its sugar content and residual sugar

Lower Alcohol Content (Unfortunately)

 The amount of alcohol in a bottle of wine can help you recognize if the wine is sweet or not. When you look at the alcohol by volume (ABV) on the wine label, wines typically fall somewhere between 5.5 percent and 23 percent ABV. This is why you'll frequently see sweet wines with alcohol levels in the range of 8 to 12 percent ABV, with considerably higher levels of residual sugar.

Happy Hunting!