About Dessert Wines

A dessert wine is one that contains enough residual sugar to be considered too sweet for dinner (= 5% RS). Some of these wines are naturally sweet, while others are fortified. Examples of the former category include Auslese from Germany or passito from Italy, while fortified dessert wines include port as well as sweet sherries such as oloroso.

Alcoholic levels vary with these dessert wines, from 5.5% for a Moscato d'Asti from Italy to 20% with a port or sherry. Colors range from light amber to deep gold for a non-fortified dessert wine, such as Riesling; these wines have aromas of honey, caramel and tropical fruits.

There are also dessert liqueurs, such as cream-based or fruit-based, produced from any number of fruits from raspberries and cherries to peaches and bananas.
Top Picks for Dessert
217654
One Woman
2014 Dessert Wine Gewurztraminer
Brilliant gold color. Floral, fruity aromas of white roses and lilacs, spicy peach pie, fruit salad, and white chocolate macadamia cookie with a velvety, vibrant, moderately sweet medium-to-full body and a sleek, involved, golden raisins, panettone a la mode, and honeyed nuts and orange finish with silky, crunchy, fruit tannins and a suggestion of oak. A sensational flavorful and delicious dessert wine that is sure to please.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222259
City Winery
NV Chazak Dessert Wine California
Black garnet color. Aromas of fruit cake, blackberry preserves, winter spices, toasted coconut, dark roasted almonds, and cocoa powder with a velvety, vibrant, very sweet medium-to-full body and a smooth, interesting, medium-long vanilla wafer cookies, rich chocolate covered black fruits, and French vanilla gelato finish with well-integrated, coating tannins and moderate oak. Fall in love with this rich port-style California wine that is perfect for cheese or after-dinner sipping.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217735
Von Schleinitz
2015 Weissenberg Single Vineyard Auslese Riesling
Straw color. Earthy, fruity, smoky aromas and flavors of spiced grilled lemon and peach, smoked nuts, and volcanic rocks and ash with a silky, tangy, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a smooth, stimulating, immediate honeyed apple, orange and apricot, golden raisins, and Meyer lemon and lime sorbets finish with fine, fruit tannins and no oak. A vibrant and pure auslese riesling with rich fruit flavors and lip-smacking acidity.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
221093
Weinwurm’s
2015 Ausbruch Weissburgunder
Golden straw color. Candied, perfumed aromas of golden honey, dried apricot, honeysuckle, and beeswax with a syrupy, lively, very sweet full body and a polished, interesting, medium-length peach blossom, fresh apple, fluffy almond nougat, and brown spices finish with fruit tannins and a suggestion of oak. A sweet and honeyed wine that would be delightful with Italian cookies.
93 points $20.60
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
221099
Salt of the Earth
2016 Flor de Moscato California
Light gold color. Sweet aromas and flavors of honeyed dried apricot, sultana, and suede with a silky, vibrant, fruity sweet medium body and a seamless, distinctive, long mandarin oranges and peach marmalade on cake finish with fine, fruit tannins. A delightful dessert wine with lovely layers of flavor.
93 points $11.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
219577
Englar Castle Winery
2015 Passito Mitterberg IGT
Brilliant old gold color. Sweet, floral aromas and flavors of honey, amaretti cookies, honeysuckle blossoms, and pear blossom with a syrupy, crisp, very sweet fat body and an even, relaxed lychee and lemon curd finish with soft, fruit tannins. A honeyed dessert wine to dunk Italian cookies.
93 points $34.80
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217802
Mr. Riggs
2016 Sticky End Viognier
Bright gold color. Aromas and flavors of ripe stone fruit and dried apricots, lanolin, peach syrup, and pressed linen and turned earth with an lively, sweet full body and a refreshing, medium-long finish with fruit tannins and no oak. This is a wine that comes through with high "Terroir" marks.
93 points $20.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217541
Point of the Bluff Vineyards
2013 Riesling Icewine Finger Lakes
Gold color. Fruity aromas and flavors of dried peaches and apricots and creme brulee with a silky, tangy, sweet medium body and a graceful, subtle, long tangerine segments, orange blossom honey, golden raisins, and spice nuts finish with fine, fruit tannins and no oak. A lush, well balanced ice wine with great flavor and style.
93 points $64.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222327
Paluzzi
2016 Moscato d'Asti
Light straw color. Fruity, floral aromas and flavors of peach phosphate, golden raisin chutney, and honeysuckle with a supple, tangy, effervescent, fruity sweet medium body and a smooth, captivating, medium-long honeyed dried apricot and wet limestone finish with no oak. A delicious and pure moscato d’Asti with excellent flavor, balance, and acidity.
92 points $7 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
221663
Barefoot Bubbly
NV Sweet Red Sparkling Dessert Wine California
Bright ruby color. Aromas and flavors of cranberry and apple sauces, wild strawberry sorbet, and pannetone with a vibrant, effervescent, fruity sweet medium body and a complex, long spiced tangerines, kiwi, orange blossom water, and melon finish with crunchy, fine, fruit tannins and no oak. A racy, delicious sweet wine with great flavor, nuance and length.
92 points $9.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab