About Dessert Wine

About Dessert Wine
A dessert wine is just that, a wine made strictly to pair with desserts at the end of a meal. Dessert wines are sweet wines; while many are naturally sweet, some are sweetned through the addition of grape must.

Famous dessert wines include Sauternes from France’s Bordeaux region, Rutherglen Muscat from Australia and vendages tardives (“late picked”) from France’s Alsace region. Germany also produces many famous dessert wines, ranging from Spatlese to Eiswein (made from frozen grapes).

Dessert wines from Italy include Vin Santo, Recioto di Soave and Recioto di Valpolicella. While some dessert wines have alcohol in the 12-14% range, others such as Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont in northern Italy are very low in alcohol (5.5%).

Dessert wines can accompany certain specific foods, especially cakes, almond tortes and fruit tarts; however, Sauternes and foie gras is a classic pairing.

While some lighter dessert wines such as Moscato d’Asti or Brachetto d’Acqui are meant for consumption upon release, others such as Sauternes or Auslese from Germany can age for decades, thanks to their high natural sugar concentration.

Top Picks for Dessert Wine

Grgich Hills 2014 Violetta Late Harvest Dessert Wine Napa Valley
94 points
Golden yellow color. Complex aromas of beeswax, petrol, yellow apple confection, lily, rose petal, stewed apricot, and golden raisin with a round, vibrant, very sweet medium-to-full body and a silky, complex, long caramelized lychee, nata de coco, coriander, ginger, grapefruit marmalade, and coconut sugar finish. A beautifully textured, concentrated and stylish dessert wine to show off to Sauternes-loving friends; feel free to cellar.
Pend d’Oreille 2008 Oui! Red Dessert Wine Washington
93 points
Dark burnt sienna color. Aromas and flavors of tiramisu, maple-fudge, cherry candies, and black pepper with a round, lively, sweet medium-to-full body and a peppery, layered, long finish with suggestions of baked Washington apple with blackberry jam, tamarind chutney, chocolate dipped black licorice, and dates with well-integrated, medium tannins and moderate oak flavor. Lively acidity and peppery nuance make this a craveable dessert wine to share.
Tom Eddy 2010 Old Vine Dessert Wine Zinfandel
93 points
Garnet black color. Fruity aromas of raspberry, chocolate graham cracker crust, dried figs and raisins, and cinnamon babka with a round, lively, sweet medium body and a smooth, intriguing, medium-length chocolate silk, espresso crema, and caramel finish with no oak flavor. A lip smacking late-harvest zinfandel that will be a decadent after-dinner cheese pairing.
Fazeli Cellars 2013 Rumi Cinsault
91 points
Brown brick red color. Aromas of cocoa powder, flourless chocolate cake, soy-glazed walnuts, and rosemary baguette with a creamy, crisp, very sweet medium-to-full body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length dried figs and dates, tiramisu, mint tea with cream, and toffee-covered nuts finish with moderate oak flavor. A delicious offering to extend the meal; will be a decadent treat with cheese.
Gina NV Casa Rossa Sweet Red Italy
90 points
Dark garnet color. Aromas and flavors of boysenberry creme brulee, cherry soda float, and strawberry jam on brioche with a tangy, moderately sweet medium body and a complex, medium-long finish that shows notes of orange-peach sorbet, pomegranate chutney, and macadamia toffee with dusty, fine, fruit tannins and no oak flavor. A fun and flavor-packed ride with balanced sweetness, acidity and varietal character.
90 points $12.99
Quady 2016 Essensia Dessert Wine Orange Muscat
90 points
Light amber color. Aromas of dried apricot, honeysuckle, toasted crumpet with orange marmalade, and jasmine with a glycerous, crisp, sweet medium body and a smooth, medium-length peaches in syrup and stroopwafel finish with a suggestion of oak flavor. A caramelly dessert wine with lots of heady fruit.
90 points $24.99
Coda Rossa 2016 Sweet Harmony Dessert Wine Concord
89 points
Garnet color. Aromas of grape jam and raspberry gummies with a slightly chewy, vibrant, fruity sweet medium body and a smooth, intriguing, medium-length graphite finish with fruit tannins. A balanced and bright Concord wine that delivers perfect simplicity with lip smacking acidity and tannins.
Easley NV Reggae Red
89 points
Best Buy
Ruby color. Fruity aromas of grape jelly, jasmine, and peach skin with a velvety, moderately sweet medium-to-full body and a medium-length strawberry fruit snacks finish. A juicy, grapey wine with an all-American attitude; drink ice cold with spicy, rustic American meals.
89 points $6.99 Best Buy
Johnson Estate 2017 Estate Grown Pink Sweet Wine Catawba
89 points
Best Buy
Ruby color. Aromas of musk, lemon gummies, grape soda, and cream soda with a round, vibrant, very sweet medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium-long orange sherbet, peony petals, strawberry jelly, and saffron finish with no oak flavor. A balanced and refreshing dessert wine that highlights classic Catawba character.
Awards: '2018 World Value Wine Challenge-Top 5 Dessert Wine $10 and Under'
89 points $8.99 Best Buy
Easley NV Sweet Tulip Red
88 points
Dusty garnet color. Aromas and flavors of red grape pie and grape juice with a bright, moderately sweet medium body and a breezy finish with overtones of fresh whipped cream with no oak flavor. A tasty, grape-y dessert wine.
88 points $6.99