The simplest way to make a sweet wine is to harvest grapes late in the year when they have achieved high sugar levels. Many of the world's most famous sweet wines are made using noble rot, a type of fungus which causes the grapes to shrivel and intensifies the flavours and sweetness. It is also common to find sweet wines that have been fortified by adding extra alcohol in the form of brandy or another grape-derived spirit. Sweet wines come in a range of styles and flavour profiles, making them ideal to enjoy at the end of a meal or as a meditation wine.
Key Sweet Wine Regions
Sweet wines are made all over the world, but the most famous examples are Sauternes from France and Tokaji from Hungary where you can buy sweet wine of the highest quality. Sauternes is a small region close to Bordeaux set between two rivers that help to create ideal conditions for noble rot. The grapes for Tokaji wines are grown on a small plateau sheltered by the Carpathian Mountains where noble rot is also a common occurrence. Other important sweet wine regions include the Douro Valley of Portugal for sweet fortified Port wines, sweet Sherry from Jerez in southern Spain, and icewine made from frozen grapes in Canada and Germany.
Sweet Wine Grape Varieties
Sweet wines can be made from almost any grape variety. Sauternes is made from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, while Furmint is used for Tokaji. In Canada, icewines are often made from the hardy hybrid Vidal variety which can withstand the freezing conditions. Other popular sweet red wine and sweet white wine grape varieties are Muscat, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Vouvray.