Jumping directly into a complex red wine may be a bit too much right off the jump. A great entry point for people who are new to wine is sweet red wine. Sweet red wines come in nice and smooth to introduce you to drinking wine, and luckily, there are several excellent sweet red wines which you can purchase at your local grocer or on the internet.

When wine connoisseurs or longtime wine lovers talk about sweet wines, their discussion usually centers on the wines that are generally served during dessert. There are several types of sweet red, and the most prominent among them is Marsala, Port, and Madeira.

Other specialty wines include:

  • Dessert
  • Dolce
  • Demi-sec
  • Late Harvest
  • Sec
  • Demi-sec, etc.

These specialty wines are produced so that they can complement sweet desserts.

Here are some of the best sweet red wines out there today:

Apothic Red Blend

Apothic Red Blend is another remarkably popular sweet red wine that instantly appeals to beginning wine drinkers without going overboard on its sweetness. This bottle of wine can be enjoyed with desserts and dinner alike, and you will have an idea of what to expect when you eventually drink drier reds.

Apothic Red has excellent blends of the following:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Syrah
  • Zinfandel
  • Merlot

This zin-driven wine has the perfect flavor profile that goes with it. Take a tiny sip, and you will be hit with a blast of dark fruit that brings to mind cherries and black plums. The blast is followed crisply by a burst of berry flavor along with a hint of vanilla and cocoa.

Apothic Red Blend’s sweetness is effectively balanced out by its acidity, but make no mistake about it; you will enjoy the silky sweetness of this flavorsome wine.

Cupcake Red Velvet Wine

The Cupcake Red Velvet Wine is another excellent option – and a grocery store favorite to boot – for people who need a sweet red wine. The winemakers took their time, expertise, and aged wisdom to produce an easy-drinking sweet, red wine that appeals to beginners.

So, when you take a sip of this velvety smoothness, expect a tasty mouthful of bright red fruit that will make your mind think of raspberry and cherries. The Cupcake Red Velvet Wine finishes with a little vanilla obtained from the oak that it ages in.

Although Cupcake Red Velvet Wine has an extraordinary amount of sugar, the acidity in it balances it quite well. Expectedly, you will not find much complexity in this remarkable bottle of wine, but since the price is kind of right and tastes okay, it is a good one to go for at any time or any day.

Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz 2017

South Africa has a worthy representative on this list of the best sweet red wines out there. This affordable wine has a semi-sweet taste and a vibrant red color. The berry flavors and scents – notably raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry – which are highly prominent are unmistakable.

You will also discover that the Sweet Shiraz 2017 – with its deep, vibrant color – has a hint of dark chocolates and it is proportionately sweet and acidic. If you are a beginner, Sweet Shiraz 2017 is the best place to start from.

Sweet Shiraz 2017 can be enjoyed on its own; however, you can enhance the taste of this beautiful-tasting wine with different palatable foods such as grilled meats, aged cheeses, Moroccan-spiced lamb, and blue cheeses. This wine can also be taken as an aperitif.

Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile

Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile originates from Italy and is made from the sweet Lambrusco grapes that grow in Emilia Romagna. This wine, much like other Amabile wines, has a semi-sweet taste, but its rich, fruity aroma spans a mixture of grape scents. Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile is no doubt one of the best fruity and sweet wines in the market today.

Wine connoisseurs love to take this great wine on its own, but it tastes better when taken with Italian cuisine. You can also choose to serve the wine with pizza, cured meats, lasagna, and food.

Chocolate Shop Chocolate Red Wine

The Chocolate Red Wine is the perfect sweet red wine for beginning wine drinkers as it has only 12.5% alcohol content along with its enchanting medium-red color. The most prominent flavors that will flood your senses are cherry and dark chocolate with cool undertones of cocoa powder. This wine has a smooth finish and is known to have a residual sugar finish.

Chocolate Red Wine can be served at ambient temperature as well as in chilled format, depending on your predilection. It also an excellent choice when consumed with sweet desserts.

New Age Red

New Age Red is a fruity, sweet wine that comes in an elegantly-designed, innovative package. It hails from Argentina – from the Mendoza Province, to be precise – and contains no more than 6% alcohol.

The wine befits the bold design of the bottle as it is a smooth blend of cherry/raspberry taste and freshness. New Age Red also has a delightful mix of rose and violet aromas and is composed of grape varieties which include 70% Bonarda and 30% Malbec.

Due to the well-defined aroma and freshness of this beverage, the best way to enjoy the New Age Red is to serve it chilled. It also works well as an aperitif and as a pleasant dessert wine.

Carletto’s Ricco Dolce

The Ricco Dolce is a high-quality but relatively inexpensive variety of sweet red wine. This wine by Carletto features a brilliant combination of raspberry and nectarine flavors along with a sweet aroma, thus making it one of the best fruity and sweet wines we have today.

The refreshing taste and bubbly character of the Ricco Dolce is fascinating and is generally composed of 70% Brachetto and 30% Malvasia Rosso. The total alcohol content of this refreshing drink is pegged at 6.5% ABV which is quite low.

Nevertheless, Carletto’s Ricco Dolce is an excellent dessert wine as well, and sommeliers will recommend drinking the wine with fruit sala, crème Brulee, chocolate, and cheesecake.

Ramos Pinto Fine Ruby Port

Port is alleged to be the best sweet red wine in the world and arguably the most popular since it is enjoyed enthusiastically by millions of wine aficionados around the world today. The ruby variety is noted for its stronger attack and the freshness it overpoweringly provides than the tawny.

The Ramos Pinto Fine Ruby Port is also one of the most affordable ruby ports you can find anywhere and comes with a blend of cherry, raspberry, plum, and blackberry aromas.

The best way to serve the Ramos Pinto Fine Ruby Port is at room temperature – i.e., 16-20 degrees Celsius – because of its rich and fresh taste. You can pair it with sweet desserts as well as cheese and crackers.

Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port

This Zinfandel Port originates from California, the foothills of the Sierra Mountains to be precise. It is a strong wine – 19% ABV – which is reminiscent of other ports. It has a rich and sweet taste.

Known as one of Terra d’Oro’s most celebrate ports, it features different aromas from sugar dates, orange peel, and berry fruits along with an undertone of chocolate sweetness. The port also hints of toffee, raisins, and cocoa.

While the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port pairs excellently well with blue cheeses in general, it does so quite well with the stilton cheese in particular. This strong, sweet wine can also be paired with toasted walnuts.

Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny Port

Ports are renowned for their sweetness, and Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny Port was named after the town from which it hails from, called Oporto. This sweet wine is in the tawny category, though somewhat on the dry side. The port has a nutty attribute and features green tea, dried fruit, intertwining caramel and coffee bean aromas.

Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny Port is an ideal dessert wine and therefore pairs well with vanilla ice cream and crème Brulee. Connoisseurs recommend that the port be served slightly chilled and in port glasses to heighten its complex taste and rich aroma.

Wine Buying Guide

There is little doubt about the fact that food and wine are natural and wonderful partners such that if they are well-matched, they lift each other to a high level of flavor. However, the real challenge is discovering how to pair them perfectly. There are some questions you must ask yourself, and the answers you provide for them will help you decide on the best food-and-wine combination.

What Flavors Do You Have A Liking For?

Wines made from single grape variety share fundamental characteristics. For instance, Merlots have variable degrees of fruit aromas viz. raspberry, black cherry, cassis, and plum as well as some spicy notes.

But then, even wines within the same varietal can differ somewhat because of some of the attributes that are derived from the wine-making process. Some merlots feature a char/smoky flavor which was obtained from the toasted barrels where they aged.

Pinot Grigio has a tart and dry Old World style while Pinot Gris – made from the same grape as its counterpart, pinot grigio – features an off-dry, full-bodied, and sweeter New World style.

So, don’t make the mistake of disregarding a varietal because of some bottles you do not like. You may be missing out of its broad range of quality or styles

What Are The Other Taste Attributes That You May Have to Consider?

Acidity and bitterness gotten from grape tannins are part of the qualities of flavor which describes the overall effect of the experience of red wine, and this could significantly influence your preference.

Wine experts usually speak of structure, and this connotes a mixture of sweetness, alcohol, tannins, and acid which are, of course, the basic taste components of wine and potent enough to create a three-dimensional sensation in your mouth. Good wines, as a rule, have more pleasing and palatable structures.

“Finish” relates to how long the wine’s texture and taste remain or linger after swallowing, and although all wines – red, white, etc. – have a measure of alcohol content, a few create disagreeable sensations of hotness in the mouth. This is usually experienced in wines with high levels of alcohol content.

Have You Considered The Food Being Served?

Merlots and cabernets are full-bodied wines that usually accompany rich dishes while Pinot Gris/grigio or sauvignon blanc – which are more fruity – are the perfect choices for lighter fare like grilled fish.

Relatively simple wines work excellently well as aperitifs on their own. Therefore, more complex wines will complement or enhance a wide range of food flavors.

Even though there are specific wines which usually go well hand-in-hand with a particular type of food, good wine pairing has a lot to do with the sauce used in preparing the food as well as the underlying meat, fowl or fish.

For instance, off-dry wines – which have low tannins – can be perfectly paired with spicy dishes. Cabernet Sauvignon is a tannic red that can also be paired excellently with fattier, rich foods, which include red meat, etc.

When Will You Drink The Wine?

Wine connoisseurs will tell you that the immediate consumption of wine as soon as it is un-corked promises the best experience. But research has shown that there are a few high-quality red wines which contain tannins that can improve and soften when they are aged at least a year or two.

Is High Price On A Par with High Quality?

It is relatively true that many expensive wines are remarkably superb, and some of the world’s best and classy wines are not low-priced. However, research has shown that high price does not necessarily imply the quality is as high as some of the best wines in the world today, most of which are pretty economical. The same research also proved that many expensive wines had unexceptional scores.

Do Not Depend On Uniformity or Consistency

Even the best wineries out there cannot generate reliable quality from one vintage to another. It is possible for wines to falter from one year to the other; therefore, take time to taste the new before you mistakenly place an order based on the previous enthusiasm you have experienced for an old vintage.

Moreover, do not make the mistake of assuming that all the varietals produced from a particular winery are as good as a specific varietal due to the fact that the winery has a track record of maintaining consistency within a varietal.

Some of the most prominent wineries around the world produce a wide array of varietals. Many brands still have good scores across their lineup, but many others have varying qualities.

Best Sweet Red Wines

Sweet red wines are usually sought after as:

  • An introduction to wine
  • A “transitionary wine” from white wine to red wine

Although red wines that are firmly in the “sweet” category are significantly harder to find than its sweet white counterpart, they are nevertheless available.

In the wine universe, “sweet” is the direct opposite of dry. The majority of the world’s best red wines are generally made in a dry style, and they have low levels of residual sugar (RS) along with high tannin content. These attributes are responsible for the considerable perception of the dry taste profile.

Whenever you are looking for any of the best sweet red wines, what you want is the opposite, but it can be relatively difficult to know if a red is either sweet or dry. There are more than a few things that you can look out for that will tell you if you are holding a sweet red wine.

Sweet or Fruity?

When it comes to sweet wines in general, it is incredibly easy to confuse sweet with “fruity.” While the sweetness of a wine is distinguished by the taste buds located on the tip of your tongue, a wine’s fruitiness is mostly an aromatic perception.

Bear in mind that you can only physically taste four sensations:

  • Sweet
  • Salty
  • Sour
  • Bitter

It is remarkably possible to smell thousands of scents. Therefore, a wine’s fruitiness is the combined efforts of aroma and taste.

The amount or presence of tannins can also have an impact on the fruitiness of the wine, and that is by helping to tame it. If a wine is overly dry or tannic, it will bind the fruit on the palate, thereby masking many of the perceptions and aromas of fruit. That is why it is highly possible to notice more fruits in low-tannin wines quickly. Many of these wines are also sweeter since they logically have more leftover sugars.

What makes a Sweet Wine “sweet”?

Wines can be freely categorized as:

  • Sweet
  • Dry
  • Off-dry (semi-sweet)

More often than not, the amount of residual sugar in a particular wine will significantly determine the level of sweetness of the wine.

Keep in mind that the entire fermentation process works on the sugars that occur naturally in the grape and converts them into alcohol. This process is facilitated with yeast. To make the wine sweeter while at the same time reducing its alcohol content, all that needs to be done is to stop the fermentation process before all the sugars are wholly converted.

Consequently, the amount of alcohol in a particular red wine can give you a clue as to the amount of residual sugar it has. So, all you have to do is take a look at the ABV (alcohol by volume) that is printed on the wine label. Wines generally fall somewhere between 5.5% and 23% ABV.

In table wines, low alcohol content indicates that the wine will be sweet, thus signifying that the residual sugar content in the wine will be significantly high. There are a few exceptions to this, but it is an excellent general rule that one can follow. This is the primary reason why you will often see German Rieslings come with alcohol levels in the range of 8% to 12% ABV, indicating that the wine has a considerably high level of residual sugar.

Sweet Red Wine Categories

The most famous – and ultimately the best – sweet red wines are in the dessert wine category. You will want to take a look at that section whenever you go shopping for red wine. While shopping, you should look for wine labels that fall into these categories:

 In Australia, sweet red wines are aptly called “stickies.” These can make use of a range of grapes, and many wine producers have built them into success stories. Port, the intensely sweet fortified wine will likewise do its best to fill the expectation of a sweet tooth.

Lambrusco from Italy is a slightly sparkling, slightly sweet, inexpensive red wine that has successfully enticed many wine lovers around the world over for several years. It is made to be consumed young and is available in most markets.

Germany’s Dornfelder grape is regularly formulated into a slightly sweet and lighter-styled wine. Although it is not excessively exported, it can still be found in the U.S. markets. It is, therefore, worth a try if you are searching for a sweeter style of red wine.

Additional List of Sweet Red Wines

As stated in the previous section, the majority of sweet red wines out there fall under the “dessert wine” grouping. Here are some other top-notch red dessert wines which are worth hunting down whenever you go shopping for the best red wines in the market today:

Banfi’s Rosa Regale

This sparkling sweet red wine from the renowned Piedmont region in Italy has a super devoted following. It is a sparkling red wine that is not only sweet but also incredibly subtle and comes with the lush flavors of ripe strawberry and juicy raspberry. You should consider giving this sweet red wine a run with pecan pie, fresh fruit or chocolate-based desserts.

Winery Cabernet Franc

Inniskillin is Canada’s leading producer of ice wine. They have naturally committed themselves to produce ice wine known as Cabernet Franc. To say that the sweet wine features red berry fruit—mainly raspberry and strawberry—would be a severe irony.  Cabernet Franc is a virtual explosion of highly concentrated fruit carried out with unrivaled elegance.

Always Remember to Examine the Wine Label

The next time you go shopping and searching for any of the best sweet red wines in the market today, bear in mind that the alcohol content is a crucial label clue. For the best sweet red wines, it is either one of two extremes in alcohol content.

When it comes to wines like the well-known sweet ports, you should look for an incredibly high level of alcohol content. For other dessert wines – such as a Lambrusco or German Reisling – search for wines within the 8% to 11% ABV range. If you attempt to go any higher, it simply means that you are looking at a drier red wine.

Wine Regions

Most of the world’s wine regions are incidentally some of the best vacation spots in the world. Of course, you can virtually travel around the wine world by visiting your local wine store.

This write-up will not be complete without listing some of the areas where the best wines are produced. Here are some of the best wine-producing regions in the world in no particular order:

Australia

Australia is allegedly the most prominent force when it comes to the New World wines and also has an excellent reputation for value. The world’s smallest country is also supplying the U.S. market with a lot of higher-end wines including Chardonnay and Shiraz which are widely grown specialties as well as sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet, etc.

Italy

Italy lay claim to a stunning collection of native wine varietals, and many of them are finding their way to numerous wine stores in the United States. Prosecco and pinot grigio are two renowned varietals that originate from Italy.

However, pinot grigio from Italy is somewhat dry, tart, and light while prosecco is a sparkling wine that is not as austere as most dazzling wines out there. Prosecco is characteristically known for its enhanced fruitiness and softer bubbles.

Spain

If you are looking for the wines that offer the best values in the wine universe today, Spanish wines meet the criteria, despite the fact that these wines cost a lot of money. Spain is renowned for producing a vast array of high-quality wines at a reasonable price, though Spanish varietals are not yet popular in the United States.

Spanish wines accentuate the traditional varietals of the country including Grenache and Tempranillo in reds, etc.

Chile

Chile is purportedly the largest exporter of wine to the United States, and each one costs a minimum of $10 per bottle. Dominant varietals in Chile include chardonnay and cabernet, though the South American country also has a remarkable reputation for producing some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs the world has ever seen and tasted. Carménère is one of the prominent varietals – among others – from Chile that are making their way to the United States.

California

Although California, allegedly the most populous region in the United States, has started facing growing and serious competition for American wine palates, the region remains the greatest source of the country’s wine. The signature grapes of California are the well-liked red and white varietals in the United States namely:

  • Merlot – characteristically in a big, bold style
  • Chardonnay – which is in the more buttery and woody style for the varietal

Argentina

Wines from Argentina is slowly gaining acceptance in the United States. The majority of Argentine wines originate from the Mendoza region in the western part of the country. Argentina is one of the largest producers of wines in the biggest-selling varietals, i.e., cabernet and chardonnay.

Argentina is progressively producing varietals that are less familiar and quite distinctive to the nation. The best examples – based on the topic being discussed in this write-up is Bonarda and Malbec, both red wines.

New Zealand

New Zealand appears to have surpassed Australia when it comes to the production of red wine. Marlborough is the country’s leading producer of sauvignon blanc, even though New Zealand also produces other wines such as pinot noir in the colder region of the country.

Some of the best red wines from New Zealand has started to gain world acclaim, though not as much as the country’s sauvignon blanc.

France

France has the reputation of being the most famous wine country in the world and has been the official role model of a majority of the New World wines today. This is why French wine continues to dominate and command a lot of respect as well as some of the highest prices in the world. Bordeaux is a French wine that blends far better than wines from other regions, and this is the primary reason why it is hard to compare shoulder to shoulder with wine varietals.

French wines are usually named after their region – as against the customary naming for grapes – and this is perhaps another reason why it is quite tricky to ascertain varietals in French wines.

Wine Lingo

Wine terms are, to a certain degree, unusual, but each term you come across has one meaning or the other. Here are some of the typical wine lingoes you may have come across in this article and wondered what they meant.

Astringent

Astringency is as a result of a substance present in grape stems, skins, and seeds – known as tannin – used in making wine. It is also be found in the oak barrels where wine is stored. The level of the stems, seeds, and grape skins also determine – to a great extent – the color of the wine. After a while, tannins may be less astringent or softer.

Aroma

This refers to the grape (i.e., fruit) redolence of varietal characteristics and young wines. It usually declines sooner or later as bottle bouquet – i.e., the characteristic smell of wine – develops.

Acidic

One of the natural components of wines is tartaric acid, and it contributes significantly to the tartness of wines. A sharp-tasting wine can sometimes be referred to as refreshing. Exceptionally tart wines are called acidic.

Body

This term connotes the “heaviness” or weight of the wine on the palate and is usually used in relation to the alcohol content. It contributes significantly to the thin or thick uniformity or consistency of the liquid.

Balanced

This is the condition in which all the distinct components in a wine – i.e., alcohol, tannins, acid, and fruit – blend and harmonize with one another such that no component dominates the others.

A perfect balance has to do with a specific style and type. Complex wines, for instance, has several flavors and aromas.

Bouquet

“Bouquet” refers to the odor or essence that is acquired via aging and fermentation. The nose takes in everything that has to with the smell of a particular wine.

Off-dry

This term refers to a wine that is a little sweet.

Dry

When a wine is said to be “dry,” it is an indication that there is a profound absence of sweetness.

Finish

This is that impression of the aromas, mouthfeel, and flavors that linger in your mouth after you have swallowed a mouthful of wine.

Estate bottled

The wine producer did one of two things:

  1. They grew the grapes used in producing wine all by themselves
  1. They severely controlled the winery’s product

Although this term has a legal significance when printed on a wine label, experts opine that it is a term that is long overused and nothing more than marketing propaganda.

Reserve

This term refers to the distinct qualities of a wine that is believed to have received additional aging in the bottle, at the winery or even both. Spain and Italy take special care when using this term as it is regulated with specific designations that require a particular length of aging.

In countries like the U.S. where it is not regulated, the term “reserve” is nothing more than an inconsequential marketing tool.

Palate

This refers to the properties that are perceived when the wine is still in your mouth, i.e., before it is swallowed.

Stylish

This is marketing terminology.

Structure

The structure has to do with the degree to which the components of a particular wine – i.e., acids, tannin, alcohol, and sugars – balance one another to produce an enjoyable feel in your mouth. Good structure helps the wine to age exceptionally well.

Varietal

This refers to a wine that is named for the most important variety of grape that is used in making it.

Conclusion

Sweet red wine is a refreshing drink that can be taken as a stand-alone beverage. However, the best way to enjoy wine is to pair it with your favorite food. Red wine is the best partner for meat dishes, though it does quite well when paired with other foods. There isn’t any strict rule to follow when it comes to wine pairing, so you are at liberty to drink your red with other dishes not mentioned in this article.

The key is to have an incredibly high level of enjoyment as well as full palate satisfaction during every sip and bite!

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