Sweet red wines are also known as transitionary wines. That’s because of the people that want to jump ships, from whites to red. For making the transition easier, they believe it will be much easier for them to start with sweet red wines.

However, sweet red wines are way more difficult to find than sweet wines, at least when compared with sweet white wines. That’s so because most red wines are dry and sweet is the opposite of dry.

Fruity or Sweet

Very often, the sweetness is confused with the fruitiness of the wine, even though they are two different things. Fruitiness is more of an aromatic perception, whereas sweetness is recognized by our taste buds located on the tip of our tongue.

Also, know that one can only taste four sensations: bitter, salty, sour, and sweet. At the same time, one person can perceive thousands of scents. In that sense, wine’s fruitiness is a combination of both aroma and taste.

Sweet red wine
Sweet red wine is often confused with fruitiness, although this is a distinctly different flavor profile. While fruits come from aroma and taste, high residual sugar wines bring the sweetness directly.

Wines that have a high concentration of tannin tend to tame the fruitiness of the wine. An overly dry wine (high on tannin) will mask all the aromas of the wine and change your perception. Because of that, it is much easier to notice aromas and fruitness in wines that are low on tannin. The vast majority of those wines also tend to be sweeter because they also have high concentrations of residual sugar.

Signs of a Sweet Wine

All wines can be categorized as dry, off-dry, or sweet. The level of sweetness is determined by the quantity of residual sugar in the wine.

As we all know, the fermentation process uses all the natural sugar found within the grape and transforms it into alcohol. If the fermentation is stopped before the process is completed, the wine tends to be sweeter, and the alcohol levels lower.

With this in mind, it is not that difficult to find out which wine is sweet and high in residual sugar. All it takes is to check the alcohol by volume, which is typically imprinted on the wine’s label. All wines have alcohol content by volume between 5.5% and 23%.

So, the lower the alcohol content, the higher the residual sugar will be, and with that, the sweeter the wine. Even though there are some exceptions to this rule, it can determine the sweetness of the wine.

Categories of Sweet Red Wine

Almost by default, the best sweet red wines can be found in the dessert wine category. So, when searching for one, first head to the wines listed in that section. Here are a few sweet red wines, along with their labels, that are very popular across the world:

  • In Australia, sweet red wines are labeled as “stickies” and are made from various varieties.
  • In Italy, Lambrusco is the most popular sweet red wine. This slightly sweet wine is quite affordable and widely available. It is made to be consumed while still young.
  • In Germany, they use the Dornfeld variety to produce sweet red wine. The biggest issue here is that outside of Germany, Dornfeld can be found only within the United States.
  • Port is a fortified wine that also falls in the sweet red wine category.
Dessert Red Wines (that also fall into the sweet red wine category)

Again, this is quite common. To that end, here are few premium dessert wines that can please your sweet tooth’s expectations.

  • Rosa Regale comes from the Piedmont region in Italy and has a big following. This sparkling red wine is not just sweet, but also comes with flavors of juicy strawberry and ripe raspberry. Most folks prefer it with pecan pie, fresh fruit, or some chocolate dessert.
  • Zinfandel from the Rosenbloom cellar is a seriously sweet red wine that has a strong toffee character and notes of raspberry. The touch of fig is subtle, yet you can’t miss it.
  • Cabernet France from Inniskillin is one of the best ice wines from Canada. There is nothing simple about this sweet red wine that offers an explosion of concentrated fruit.
Red dessert wine
Red dessert wine is often sweet, and will carry strong fruity notes as well as the high residual sugar. For someone who typically likes sweeter whites, a sweet red dessert wine can be a good “transition wine”.
In Conclusion

So, the next time you are searching for a sweet red wine, use the alcohol level as your primary hint. For wines such as the Italian Lambrusco and the German Riesling, search for wines whose alcohol levels are between eight and eleven percentages. Any higher than that and you will be looking at a dry red wine, not a sweet red wine.