Liquor Laboratory

10 Best Sweet Red Wines: Discover Luscious Reds (2024)

Sweet Red Wines

Today, I’m thrilled to dive into the world of sweet red wines with you and share the magic that makes them truly exceptional.

Sweet reds are some of the most relaxing drinks – they have a certain depth and a nice acidity that makes the wine sweet and pleasant. Personally, I like winding down with a glass of my favorite sweet red wine after a long, tiring day.

I’ve explored many sweet red wines from various regions over the years, and I can’t wait to share my favorites with you.

Here are the best sweet red wines to please your taste buds.

Top 10 Sweet Red Wine Bottles To Sip

1. Brachetto d’Acqui Rosso

Brachetto d’Acqui Rosso

Average Price: Around $25 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 6%

Nose: Hints of roses, dried apricots, and cotton candy

Palate: Sweet, with candied apple and strawberries

Star Rating: ★★★★★

Why We Like It: This Rosso is one of the best sweet reds that boasts a medley of flavors, such as notes like rose, raspberry, cotton candy, and cherry.

Sipping sweet red wine paints your taste buds with the warm, rich colors of delight.” – Liquor Laboratory 

These light-bodied, sweet red wines, sweeter than most wines, are one of our favorites for special occasions because it’s always a treat to savor it.

Unlike other wines, this won’t get you drunk too quickly – you can enjoy the entire bottle of Italian wine without a care in the world. [1]

2. Recioto della Valpolicella

Recioto della Valpolicella

Average Price: Around $35 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 13%

Nose: Black cherry, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon

Palate: Velvety and chocolatey

Star Rating: ★★★★★

Why We Like It: This is a true gem among sweet red passito wines. Its rich texture offers a delightful journey of flavors like black cherry, cranberry, vanilla, chocolate, and true cinnamon.

It’s said that well-crafted fortified sweet red wines like this can age another 20 to 30 years as long as it is never opened. As it matures, it transforms into a softer, more nuanced, sweet red wine with decadent notes.

Personally, I have a bottle of this sweet wine that I’m not planning to open anytime soon. [2]

3. Yalumba Reserve Antique Tawny Port+

Yalumba Reserve Antique Tawny Port

Average Price: Around $45 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 19%

Nose: Dried fruits, chocolate, and brandy

Palate: Velvety flavors of rancio and caramel

Star Rating: ★★★★★

Why We Like It: This Antique Tawny Port is a testament to the artistry of winemaking, as it’s crafted with dedication over four decades.

This aging period is apparent in the vintage port itself – it has a tawny hue with subtle green tinges, a sign of its prolonged aging in wood.

This medium-bodied dessert wine is dense, with dates, chocolate, caramel, and sweet, nutty fruit flavors.

4. Il Conte d’Alba Stella Rosa Piedmont 

Il Conte d'Alba Stella Rosa Piedmont 

Average Price: Around $15

Alcohol Content: 5.5%

Nose: Fresh strawberry

Palate: Semi-sweet and sparkling, with grape, sugar, and rose candy

Star Rating: ★★★★

Why We Like It: This red wine is all about bubbly sweetness. This dessert wine is super refreshing and full of fresh strawberry aroma.

Thanks to the Charmat method, this sparkling wine is not only sweet but also wonderfully balanced.

5. Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice

Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice

Average Price: Around $200 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 15%

Nose: Fig, date, hazelnut, and maraschino cherry

Palate: Luscious and dense, with nuts, dates, figs, and cherry

Star Rating: ★★★★

Why We Like It: The Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice is a captivating sweet wine made primarily with Sangiovese red wine grapes, which thrives in hot weather. It doesn’t have the full tannic flavors of traditional red wines, but it’s still pretty nutty and complex.

Unlike most sweet wines, this light wine is the meticulous combination of the unique grape-drying method and a prolonged fermentation process.

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6. Taylor Fladgate Special Fine Ruby Port

Taylor Fladgate Special Fine Ruby Port

Average Price: Around $20 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 20%

Nose: Cedarwood, black pepper, and vanilla

Palate: Fruit forward, with plum, black currant, and grape skins

Star Rating: ★★★★

Why We Like It: This fine Ruby Port greets you with intense black currant and cherry aromas. The fruity wine follows with a surprisingly smooth palate and an elegant finish.

This fine port pairs perfectly well with blue-veined cheeses like other dessert wines. [3]

7. Paul Masson NV Madeira

Paul Masson NV Madeira

Average Price: Around $10

Alcohol Content: 18%

Nose: Vanilla, peanut butter, and sweet potatoes

Palate: Cinnamon toast, soy sauce, parsnips, and rutabaga

Star Rating: ★★★★

Why We Like It: This full-bodied red is probably one of the most unique wines on this list. Instead of greeting you with refreshing acidity, this fortified wine tastes savory, with soy sauce, parsnips, rutabaga, and sweet potato notes.

This red blend is known for elevating brown sauces, pork dishes, and poultry gravies, but it’s just as good drunk neat or on the rocks. This fortified wine has a full-bodied profile that will get you excited for the next sip. [4]

8. Cockburn’s Fine Ruby NV Portocolate

Cockburn's Fine Ruby NV Portocolate

Average Price: Around $20 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 19%

Nose: Red fruits, like cherries and raspberries

Palate: Soft and fruity red berries

Star Rating: ★★★

Why We Like It: If you’re new to the journey of port wine, Cockburn’s is a great place to start. It has rich, fruity flavors and a smooth texture, perfect for both sipping or pairing with decadent desserts.

The nose reveals fresh and appealing red fruit aromas, which set the stage for a memorable wine-tasting experience.

9. Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce

Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce

Average Price: Around $20 (Wine Searcher)

Alcohol Content: 11.5%

Nose: Raspberries and roses

Palate: Raspberry, cherry fruit flavors, and almond

Star Rating: ★★★

Why We Like It: This captivating dark violet-hued wine offers a delightful journey for beginners and seasoned wine enthusiasts.

Native to Northern Italy, the Lambrusco grape variety is the star of this sweet red wine. It starts with a harmonious blend of raspberry, pomegranate, and sweet cherry sauce, complemented by a hint of almond.

10. Brachetto d’Acqui Spumante

Brachetto d’Acqui Spumante

Average Price: Around $20 (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 7%

Nose: Rose, cherry, and berries

Palate: Sweet and pleasantly crisp, with sweet grape juice, cherry, and berries

Star Rating: ★★★

Why We Like It: Brachetto d’Acqui Spumante sweet wines take the sweetness of Brachetto grape to a new level with its fully sparkling nature.

The nose presents a fragrant bouquet of rose, cherry, and berries, followed by a sweet, elegant, and delicately crisp palate.

“Life is too short to drink bad wine, and even shorter to drink sweet red wine that doesn’t touch your soul.” – Robert Mondavi, American winemaker

One of the best ways to savor this delightful, sweet, sparkling red wine is with desserts. It elevates the flavors of fruit salads, cakes, and biscuits without being overly sweet.

Note: The star rating was determined based on a blind test, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Each sweet wine was ranked based on flavor complexity, smoothness, versatility in mixology, and popular consensus among enthusiasts.

FAQs

What are sweet red wine names?

Sweet red wines are also called Port wine, Lambrusco, Brachetto, Recioto della Valpolicella, and Vin Santo Rosso.

What is sweeter, Merlot or Cabernet?

It depends. Merlot and Cabernet are red wine grape varieties, but their sweetness varies depending on the grapes’ natural sugar content and winemaking technique.
Generally, Merlot has more natural sugars and is less tannic, so it’s on the sweeter side. Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many to be a dry wine.

How are sweet red wines made?

Sweet red wines can be made using various winemaking techniques. Some are naturally sweet due to the grape variety used, while others may undergo processes such as late harvesting or the addition of grape juice or other sweeteners to increase the sugar content.

What grape varieties are commonly used to produce sweet red wines?

Grape varieties commonly used to produce sweet red wines include Lambrusco, Brachetto, Ruby Port, Tawny Port, and some styles of Zinfandel and Malbec. These grapes are known for their naturally higher sugar content and fruity flavors.

Are sweet red wines only for dessert?

While sweet red wines are often enjoyed as dessert wines due to their sweetness, they can also pair well with a variety of foods. They complement spicy dishes, salty cheeses, and rich meats, and can also be enjoyed on their own as aperitifs or with appetizers.

Are all red wines sweet?

No, not all red wines are sweet. In fact, most red wines are dry, meaning they contain very little residual sugar and have a more tannic and acidic taste profile. Sweetness in red wines is typically associated with specific grape varieties or winemaking techniques.

Final Verdict

Sweet red wine is always a delight for our taste buds, and all of these options above are great choices. However, if we were to pick only one, the sweetest red wine is, hands down, Brachetto d’Acqui Rosso.

Brachetto d’Acqui Rosso is an exciting choice for wine enthusiasts and beginners with a sweet tooth. The effervescent mix of rose, raspberry, and cherry flavors remains interesting the longer you drink it, and the low alcohol content ensures that you can savor the sweet red wine without getting drunk too quickly.

Moreover, its affordability adds to its charm, making it accessible to a wide range of wine lovers, and it also pairs excellently with desserts like dark chocolate truffles and tarts when served chilled.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/wine-drunk#vs-beer-or-liquor
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-wine-last
  3. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-pair-wine-food
  4. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/easy-red-wine-gravy
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