About Dessert Wines

A dessert wine is one that contains enough residual sugar to be considered too sweet for dinner. 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
216705
Frost Bitten
2015 Ice Wine Riesling
Golden straw color. Attractive, fruity, creamy aromas and flavors of spicy peach compote, flan, and pineapple cake with a velvety, tangy, moderately sweet medium-to-full body and a sleek, complex, long candied apricot, mango sorbet, and acacia honey finish with no oak. A delicious, mouthwatering dessert wine rivaling some of America’s best at a price that is hard to beat.
96 points $14 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
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
216028
Grgich Hills
2013 Violetta Napa Valley
Bright gold color. Fruity, complex aromas and flavors of baked stone fruits, golden raisin nut toast, and caramelized pineapple with a satiny, crisp, sweet medium-to-full body and a seamless, complex, very long nougat, golden plum preserves, and honey finish with no oak. A great, richly flavorful dessert wine that will brilliantly conclude a fine meal.
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
216880
Santo Stefano
NV Lambrusco Italy
Dusty garnet color. Attractive aromas and flavors of spiced peaches, plums, and apples, nougat, and grape skin with a supple, tangy, effervescent, fruity sweet medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length cherry compote and lime sorbet finish with fine tannins and no oak. A very toothsome and mouthwatering Lambrusco that will be quite versatile.
94 points $8 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
216568
Salt of the Earth
2015 Moscato Rubino California
Bright medium ruby black color. Spicy, fruity aromas and flavors of spicy berry and cherry sorbets, strawberry rhubarb pie, and suede with a satiny, tangy, petillant, sweet medium-to-full body and a sleek, complex, long apricot jam, peach soda, and candied citrus finish with fine tannins and no oak. A rich, concentrated dessert wine with great purity of fruit.
94 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
216950
Lenz Moser
2015 Prestige Beerenauslese Burgenland
Gold color. Aromas and flavors of honey golden raisins, candied apricots, and orange blossoms with a fruity sweet medium body and a medium-long spiced apple and pear, peach cobbler, and vanilla buttercream on panettone finish. A vibrant flavor-packed dessert wine that is sure to be a hit.
93 points $21.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab