Liquor Laboratory

10 Best Sweet Wines With High Alcohol Content (2024 Edition)

Sweet Wine With High Alcohol Content

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 by Lydia Martin

There’s nothing better than capping off a sumptuous dinner with a nice glass of sweet wine.

However, it’s no secret that most sweet dessert wines have pretty low alcohol content. 

That may be generally true, but not always the case — some sweet wines can have a whopping 20 percent ABV, which is more than the 11 to 13 percent standard.

If you’re looking for sweet wine with high alcohol content, look no further — we’ve got the most comprehensive list here. Let’s start. 

Top 10 Sweet Wines With High Alcohol Content 

10. 2012 Mount Pleasant Vintage Port 

3 Bottles of 2012 Mount Pleasant Vintage Port 

Average Price: Around $40 

Alcohol Content: 19.5% 

Why We Like It:

Port wines are generally sweet, and the 2012 Mount Pleasant Vintage Port might just be our favorite.

Each sip of this medium-bodied red wine gave us plenty of dark chocolate, roasted almonds, and black licorice, which we imagine would pair exceptionally well with fruits, chocolate, and cheese. 

Its medium-length, dry finish gave us complimentary cake and dried fig flavors. 

9. Chateau d’Yquem

Bottle of Chateau D'Yquem

Average Price: Around $500 

Alcohol Content: 14.8% 

Why We Like It:

Chateau d’Yquem is a type of Saturnes, meaning it is made from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes with a bit of noble rot (a kind of mold). 

While that sounds ghastly in theory, noble rot is a good thing in wine-making because this is what causes the natural sugars in the fruit to become concentrated even more. 

Like most classic Saturnes wine, Chateau d’Yquem is nicely fruity, with notes of dried apricots, juicy peaches, and golden honey.

This is one of our personal favorites for digestifs. [1

8. 2004 Felsina Berardenga Vin Santo Chianti Classico

2004 Felsina Berardenga Vin Santo Chianti Classico Bottle in a glass on Desk

Average Price: Around $130 

Alcohol Content: 15% 

Why We Like It:

The 2004 Felsina Berardenga Vin Santo Chianti Classico is made with 80 percent Malvasia-Trebbiano and 20 percent Sangiovese grapes.

Each glass of dark brown wine will give you a delicious concoction of apricot, hazelnut, and citrus flavors alongside a subtle clove aroma. 

7. 2014 La Vrille Chambave Muscat Fletri 

2014 La Vrille Chambave Muscat Fletri 

Average Price: Around $100 

Alcohol Content: Around 10 to 13% 

Why We Like It:

The 2014 La Vrille Chambave Muscat Fletri is a popular dessert wine from Valle d’Aosta, Northern Italy, and made from Muscat Blanc.

Once the dark red liquid is poured inside a glass, you’ll get a pleasant whiff of fruit and honey, but a different story is told once it hits your palate — it turns warm and soft, with lovely almond notes and a full mouthfeel. 

6. Augusta Winery’s Icewine 

Augusta Winery’s Icewine with Glass

Average Price: Around $35 

Alcohol Content: 11% 

Why We Like It:

As the name suggests, the Augusta Winery’s Icewine is a type of Icewine, wherein grapes are frozen while still on the vine, resulting in a much sweeter drink. 

It can be made anywhere where grapes can be frozen on the vine, but much of the world’s supply comes from Canada. 

Augusta Winery’s Icewine is excellent drizzled over a scoop of ice cream or as the dessert drink. This is a rich wine rife with peach, pineapple, and honey notes. [2

5. 2007 D’Oliveiras Madeira 

Average Price: Around $60 

Alcohol Content: 19.8%

Why We Like It:

Madeira wine is one of the sweetest wines, with grapes harvested and grown in the Portuguese region of Madeira.

They are most famous for their unique production process, wherein they are placed inside heated barrels and exposed to oxygen to achieve their sweet and nutty profile. 

“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink more wine.”

Ernest Hemingway, American Novelist

The 2007 D’Oliveiras Madeira is one of the best Madeira wines today.

This full-bodied wine is loaded with tar, maple syrup, and sweet baking spice notes and finishes brightly and sweetly. 

We also have some semi-sweet red wines here

4. 1984 D’Oliveiras Bual Vintage Madeira

3 Bottles of 1984 D'Oliveiras Bual Vintage Madeira

Average Price: Around $200 

Alcohol Content: 20% 

Why We Like It:

The 1984 D’Oliveiras Bual Vintage Madeira is pleasantly fruity and crisp with a refreshing finish.

We like pairing this with chocolate or cheese, as its zing gives the richness of the latter a good contrast. 

This is our second Madeira on the list, and for a good reason — Madeira wines are known to be nice and sweet, with high alcohol content. 

3. Pelligrino Superiore Reserva 

Pelligrino Superiore Reserva  Bottle and a Glass on a Desk

Average Price: Around $50 

Alcohol Content: 18% 

Why We Like It:

The Pelligrino Superiore Reserva is a type of Marsala wine produced in the Marsala region of Sicily, Italy. This type of wine can be white or red, dry or sweet. 

Pelligrino Superiore Reserva falls under the sweet spectrum. It’s round, full, and hearty, perfect if you pair it with a nice, well-seasoned steak or creamy alfredo pasta during date nights at home.

Its sweetness will also give a nice contrast to tart berries for dessert. 

2. NV Barbadillo Reliquia Pedro Ximenez Sherry

Average Price: Around $650 

Alcohol Content: 15% 

Why We Like It:

The NV Barbadillo Reliquia Pedro Ximenez Sherry is very limited and very expensive, and for a good reason — it’s one of the oldest sherries produced by Bodegas Barbadillo.

These were originally exclusively for family consumption but have since been made available to the public in limited quantities. 

The sherry wine is dense and sweet, with lots of fruit notes like raisins, dates, and figs.

The experience transforms as it goes through your palate and turns drier, making each sip more memorable. 

1. Pedro Ximenez

Pedro Ximenez Bottle and glass on Tablle

Average Price: Around $90 

Alcohol Content: Between 15 to 22% 

Why We Like It:

Hands down, the best sweet wine in our book is Pedro Ximenez.

It is made from black grapes of the same name and “sunned,” a process of letting the fruit dry out in the sun to achieve an exceptionally high sugar concentration. 

Pedro Ximenez is pleasantly thick in the bottle and inside your glass.

It has a nice, velvety mouthfeel, rife with heady notes of figs, raisins, dates, and fruit jam, with a warm, lengthy finish. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which sweet wines have the highest alcohol content?

Port, Sherry, and Marsala are sweet wines with pretty hefty alcohol content (anywhere from 15 to 20 percent ABV). Most regular wines have around 11 to 13 percent ABV. 

Does sweet wine have higher alcohol content than regular wine?

No, sweet wine doesn’t have a higher alcohol content than regular wine.

On the contrary, most sweet wines will have very little alcohol content (around 5 to 8 percent) as opposed to the standard ABV of regular wines (around 11 to 13 percent). 

What wine is sweet but strong?

Port wine is an excellent example of a wine that is both sweet and strong. Originating from Portugal, Port wine is fortified with grape spirits, typically brandy, during the fermentation process, resulting in a higher alcohol content.

This fortification also preserves the natural sweetness of the grapes, creating a lusciously sweet and robust wine.

What wine is sweet and gets you drunk?

While the alcohol content of wine varies, some sweet wines can be higher in alcohol, potentially leading to a quicker feeling of inebriation.

Late Harvest Zinfandel, for instance, is a sweet wine with elevated sugar levels and a higher alcohol content, making it a choice that combines sweetness with the potential to feel the effects of alcohol more noticeably.

Are sweet wines higher in alcohol?

Not necessarily. The sweetness of a wine is determined by its residual sugar content, while the alcohol content is influenced by factors such as grape ripeness, fermentation, and whether the wine has undergone fortification.

While some sweet wines can be higher in alcohol, the correlation between sweetness and alcohol content is not absolute.

Many sweet wines, like dessert wines, may have lower alcohol content, while others, like fortified wines, can be both sweet and high in alcohol.

What is a very, very sweet wine?

Moscato d’Asti is an example of a very, very sweet wine. Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, this sparkling white wine is made from the Moscato grape and is known for its intensely sweet and fruity characteristics.

It is often enjoyed as a dessert wine or a refreshing aperitif.

What wine has 20% alcohol?

Fortified wines, such as some Ports and Sherry, can have alcohol content reaching around 20% or even higher. These wines are strengthened with additional spirits during production, arresting fermentation and preserving both sweetness and a higher alcohol level.

However, it’s important to note that the majority of table wines, including both reds and whites, typically range from 8% to 15% alcohol by volume, with higher percentages being more characteristic of certain fortified or dessert wines.

What is an example of a sweet wine?

Moscato is a classic example of a sweet wine. Originating from Italy, Moscato is made from the Muscat grape, offering a delightful sweetness with floral and fruity notes.

It is often enjoyed as a dessert wine or as a refreshing choice for those who prefer a sweeter profile.

Which wine is best for ladies?

Wine preferences are highly subjective and not gender-specific, but if someone enjoys sweeter and more approachable wines, Moscato, Riesling, or Rosé might be appealing choices.

However, it’s essential to recognize that taste is personal, and individuals should explore various styles to discover their own preferences, irrespective of gender.

What is a good sweet white wine?

Riesling is widely considered a good sweet white wine. Originating from Germany, Riesling wines can range from dry to very sweet, accommodating a variety of palates.

The naturally high acidity in Riesling balances its sweetness, resulting in a refreshing and harmonious taste. Look for designations such as “Kabinett” or “Spätlese” on German Riesling labels for an indication of sweetness levels.

What is a sweet wine for beginners?

For beginners exploring sweet wines, a Moscato or a White Zinfandel can be an excellent starting point. These wines typically offer a pleasant sweetness without overwhelming complexity, making them approachable and enjoyable for those new to wine tasting.

Additionally, the fruity and light characteristics of these wines can be appealing to a broad range of palates.

How can you tell if wine is sweet?

Several indicators can help determine if a wine is sweet. One method is to check the label for terms like “sweet,” “off-dry,” or “demi-sec,” which suggest varying levels of sweetness. Additionally, the grape variety can provide clues; wines like Moscato, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling are often associated with sweetness.

Examining the alcohol content can also be informative, as sweeter wines tend to have lower alcohol levels.

Lastly, the visual cues of a thicker texture and the presence of residual sugar can be observed in the appearance and legs of the wine in the glass, offering further hints about its sweetness.

Final Verdict: Sweet Wine With High Alcohol Content

We love our sweet wines, and we hope we’ve made your search a bit easier with this comprehensive list of the best sweet wines with high alcohol content. 

Each of these has its own unique flavor and can be enjoyed in various ways, whether with a nice steak dinner or as a digestif to be enjoyed after.

Of course, our favorite way to enjoy sweet wines is as a dessert drink. 

Pedro Ximenez is our top sherry with its sweet and syrupy notes. NV Barbadillo Reliquia Pedro Ximenez Sherry and Pelligrino Superiore Reserva are close runner-ups. 


  1. All About the Digestif, a Charming After-Dinner Tradition
  2. Red Wine Floats
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