Last Modified On:
March 4, 2024

15 Best Sweet Red Wines You Should Try: All Types and Levels

Discover the 15 best sweet red wines with our complete wine guide. Explore the different types and levels available right here on our blog.

3 minutes

Are you a self-proclaimed grape connoisseur with a sweet tooth? Then you definitely need to check out our list of the 15 Best Sweet Red Wines You Should Try! In this blog, we will take a deep dive into the world of sweet red wine. We'll explore what makes red wine sweet, the science behind it, and the different levels of sweetness that exist.

We'll also share our top picks for sweet red wines from around the world. From Italy to Argentina, we've got you covered. Plus, we'll give you some tips on when to enjoy sweet red wine and which foods pair best with it. And finally, we'll answer the burning question - can sweet wines be made by adding sugar to dry wine? So grab a glass (or bottle) of your favorite sweet red and let's get started!

Understanding Sweet Red Wine

So, you want to understand the world of sweet red wine? Well, buckle up and get ready for a fruity adventure! These wines are like a dessert in a glass, with their higher sugar content and irresistible sweetness. It's all thanks to those natural sugars found in the grapes. From slightly sweet to oh-so-sweet, there's a wide range to choose from. Think Lambrusco, Brachetto d'Acqui, and Dornfelder – just a few of the popular players in the sweet red game.

Red wine gets its sweetness from the natural sugars in the grapes used to make it. The fermentation process can be adjusted to retain more residual sugar, resulting in a sweeter wine. Sweet red wines may also undergo shorter fermentation periods or be fortified with additional grape juice. The level of sweetness is often balanced by lower acidity and the presence of tannins.

The Science Behind Red Sweet Wine

Are you curious about how wine sweetness is determined? It's simple. The grapes' ripeness at harvest determines the sugar content in the wine. During fermentation, yeast converts this sugar into alcohol. Winemakers can control the fermentation process to retain some residual sugar and make it sweeter. Factors like temperature and yeast selection also play a role. Sweetness is subjective and varies from person to person. So, when it comes to sweet wine, it all boils down to science and personal taste.

Exploring Red Wine Sweetness Levels

Reds come in a range of sweetness levels, from off-dry to very sweet. There's something for everyone's taste buds! Off-dry reds strike the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. Medium-sweet reds offer a noticeable but not overwhelming sweetness. Semi-sweet reds have a pronounced sweetness that lingers on the palate. And if you're looking for a dessert-like experience, very sweet reds with rich residual sugar are just the ticket.


Dry red wines have minimal residual sugar, meaning that the fermentation process has converted most of the grape sugars into alcohol. These wines typically have little to no perceptible sweetness and are characterized by their tannins and acidity. They are not considered sweet red wines.


Off-dry red wines have a hint of sweetness, with a small amount of residual sugar remaining. This sweetness is subtle and balanced by acidity, giving it a touch of roundness without being cloying.


Semi-sweet red wines have a moderate level of residual sugar, offering noticeable sweetness without being overly sugary. These wines are often fruit-forward, with a pleasant balance of sweetness and acidity, making them versatile and approachable.


Medium-sweet red wines have a more pronounced sweetness, which can range from moderately sweet to quite sweet. These wines have a noticeable sugar content that coats the palate, often accompanied by fruity flavors. They are well-suited for sipping and pairing with desserts.


Sweet red wines are characterized by a high level of residual sugar, resulting in a distinctly sweet taste. These wines are dessert-like in nature, with rich, syrupy textures and intense sweetness. They are typically enjoyed in small quantities as a dessert or with sweet treats.

Very Sweet Red Wines (Dessert Wine):

Dessert wines or very sweet red wines, which include styles like late harvest, ice wine, and some Ports, are exceptionally sweet and often have an almost syrupy consistency. They are specifically crafted for dessert pairing or as standalone sweet treats, offering concentrated sweetness and complex flavors.

red wine sweet

15 Best Sweet Red Wine Types: From Italy to Germany

Uncover the crème de la crème of sweet red wines with our tantalizing list of the 15 best. From Italian wine to German and beyond, we've scoured the globe to bring you a diverse range of flavors. Indulge in the dolce delights of lambrusco and the seductive allure of brachetto d’acqui DOCG. Let your taste buds dance with notes of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. With the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, these wines are sure to leave you craving for more.

1. Lambrusco

Lambrusco is an Italian sweet red wine known for its effervescence. It's made primarily from the Lambrusco grape variety and hails from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Lambrusco wines range from off-dry to sweet, with flavors of red berries, making them a delightful, refreshing option. If you're looking for a low cost Lambrusco, try out Riunite Lambruscom that pairs beautifully with the bright flavors of strawberry, lemon, and basil..

2. Dolce

Dolce is an Italian sweet red wine with a lusciously sweet profile. It's known for its dessert-like qualities, featuring flavors of ripe fruits, honey, and spices. Dolce wines are perfect for sipping after a meal or with desserts.

3. Dornfelder

Dornfelder is a German red variety that can be made in a semi-sweet or sweet style. It offers dark fruit flavors like blackberry and cherry and is often appreciated for its approachable sweetness. Dornfelders will be labeled with “sweet”, “dessert”, “süss”, or “süß”.

4. Black Muscat

Black Muscat is a sweet red wine with intense floral and fruity aromas, often enjoyed as a dessert wine. It's made from the Black Muscat grape, known for its aromatic qualities.

5. Merlot

Merlot is a versatile red grape variety that can produce both dry and sweet wines. When crafted into a sweet red wine, Merlot offers luscious flavors of black cherry, plum, and chocolate. It's a crowd-pleaser that pairs well with a variety of foods, from grilled meats to rich chocolate desserts. Savor the smooth velvety texture and the lingering sweetness on your palate.

6. Recioto della Valpolicella

This Italian red wine is made from dried grapes in the Valpolicella region. It offers a sweet and luscious profile with flavors of cherries and raisins. Luxurious brands like Speri Recioto della Valpolicella Classico La Roggia are often enjoyed with sweet desserts after dinner.

7. Zinfandel

Zinfandel wines can exhibit different levels of sweetness, with certain variations crafted in a manner that highlights their luscious berry flavors and jam-like qualities. Zinfandel is a flexible grape variety renowned for its forward expression of fruit. One well-regarded option in this style would be the Tobin James Late Harvest.

8. Port

Port is a fortified wine from Portugal, typically sweet and rich. Ruby Port is young and fruity, while Tawny Port is aged, displaying nutty and caramel notes. Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports are also sweet and full-bodied. These wines are often enjoyed as dessert wines.

9. Tawny Port

Tawny Port is a type of Port wine that has undergone extended aging in oak barrels, resulting in a rich amber color and complex flavors. It offers a delightful combination of sweetness and nutty undertones, with hints of caramel and dried fruits. Tawny Port is perfect for sipping after a meal or pairing with desserts like crème brûlée or pecan pie. Indulge in its velvety smoothness as it leaves a warm, lingering finish on your palate.

10. Brachetto d'Acqui

Brachetto d'Acqui is an Italian sparkling red with a sweet and fruity character described as sweet cherry sauce. It's typically low in alcohol and is known for its vibrant red color and strawberry-like flavors. One popular brand of Brachetto d'Acqui is Rinaldi Brachetto D'Acqui, which is well-regarded for its quality and taste.

11. Banyuls

Banyuls is a sweet fortified wine from the Roussillon region of France. It features dark fruit flavors, chocolate, and spice notes, making it a delightful companion to chocolate-based desserts.

12. Maury

Maury is another sweet fortified wine from the Roussillon region of France, known for its richness and dark fruit notes, often enjoyed as a dessert wine.

13. Shiraz/Syrah Late Harvest

Late-harvest Shiraz or Syrah wines are known for their juicy berry flavors. By leaving the grapes on the vine longer, sweetness and flavor are concentrated. These wines, like Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz, often have hints of spice, adding complexity to their taste profile. They pair well with spicy dishes or desserts for those who enjoy sweeter, fruitier wines.

14. Bonarda

Bonarda is a sweet red wine that hails from Argentina. It is known for its vibrant purple color and fruity characteristics, with notes of blackberries, cherries, and plums. Bonarda is a versatile wine that pairs well with a wide range of foods, including grilled meats, pasta dishes, and spicy cuisine. Its smooth tannins and balanced acidity make it an enjoyable choice for both casual gatherings and special occasions.

15. Grenache Noir (Garnacha)

Grenache Noir, or Garnacha, is a sweet Spanish red wine with a balance of fruitiness and spice. It offers flavors of ripe berries, cherries, and a hint of pepper. Enjoy it on its own or paired with grilled meats or hearty stews. With smooth tannins and vibrant acidity, it's perfect for any occasion. Experience the allure of Grenache Noir with a luxurious option like Alto Moncayo Garnacha.

Food Pairings for Sweet Wines Red

Pairing sweet red wines is a delightful adventure in flavors. For a decadent treat, indulge in the rich, dark pleasure of a glass of sweet red alongside some dolce and creamy chocolate. Enhance the spiciness of your favorite dishes with a fruity, irreverent sweet red blend. Add a touch of sweetness to your barbecue sauce with a fruity glass of sweet red wine. Craving a cheese and charcuterie board? Pair it perfectly with a glass of sweet red wine. And for a sweet ending, savor the combination of fruity desserts with the playful notes of a berry-filled sweet red wine.

Conclusion + FAQs

To sum it up, sweet red wines offer a delightful and indulgent experience for enthusiasts. From the rich and velvety flavors to the perfect balance of sweetness, these wines are meant to be savored and enjoyed. Whether you prefer a well-known classic or a hidden gem, there is a sweet red wine out there waiting to be discovered. So go ahead, explore the world of sweet red wines and treat yourself to a glass (or two) of pure bliss. Cheers to the sweeter side of life!

What is the smoothest sweetest red wine?

Port wine, especially aged Tawny Port, is renowned for its smoothness and sweetness. With rich, mellow flavors of caramel, nuts, and dried fruits, it offers a velvety texture and a lusciously sweet profile. This makes Tawny Port one of the smoothest and sweetest red wines available.