The Ice Wine Experience

Ice wine (or Eiswein) would be a very expensive sweet wine for beginners, but if you want to experience the buzz circling these treasures then by all means, spend the money. The secret behind ice wine is the concentrated sugars trapped in the wine grapes as they freeze in a late winter season. They are picked from the vine while frozen, usually at night or early morning and then pressed immediately.

But what makes an ice wine an experience worth the high cost is the taste. Think of pure, slowly dripping honey. While they freeze on the vine the water in the grapes freezes while the sugars and other solids remain. So what is pressed out of the grapes is a sugar-heavy juice. Needless to say only a small amount of juice can be gathered from the frozen grapes which limits production and results in the high price tag of the dessert wines.

One thing that confuses some people is the idea that ice wine is made from Botrytised grapes. This is wrong. Grapes used in ice wine production are healthy grapes free of the fungus Noble Rot when harvested. This allows for a deeper sweetness and a better sweet wine altogether.

Ice Wine Vineyard in Ontario, CanadaWine regions that produce ice wine are those found in very cold climes, Germany being the most famous producer. Here it is called Eiswein. Canada produces some amazing ice wines out of its Inniskillin winery in the Niagara region. And the costs of these gems? Expect to lay down $50 on average, though some reach upwards of $90 or more. Other lesser known ice wine producers are the U.S., Austria, Croatia, France, New Zealand and Australia, though Australian ice wines are making headway in the ice wine world.

The freezing of the grapes does not have to happen on the vine in all cases. In Germany, Austria and Canada it is required that the grapes be frozen on the vine in order to be classified as ice wine, but in other areas of the world the process of cryoextraction is used to freeze the grapes. This is a mechanized process of freezing. These type of ice wines are referred to as 'icebox wines".

Riesling, Germany's signature white wine grape is most used for ice wines in that country and in Austria, France and Italy. The Vidal grape, a hybrid of Ugni Blanc and Rayon dOr is another ice wine variety used in France, as is Cabernet Franc, typically a red wine grape used in the production of the famous Bordeaux wines.

Because the sugars are kept from being fermented fully in ice wine production, most ice wines have low alcohol content. German Eiswein can contain as little as 6% alcohol, while Canadian ice wines reach a little higher at 8% to 13%. And due to the limited production, the ice wines are bottled in half bottles of 375ml.

Being a dessert wine, ice wine can be paired with any dessert. Even an overly sweet dessert will be hard pressed to out-sweet an ice wine. Tarts, custards, cheeses and my favorite, foie gras, make great pairings for ice wine. Or as with any dessert wine, you can sip all on its own.

Despite the expensive nature of ice wine, it is well worth the investment as it is an experience to remember. As a sweet wine for beginners you might find it hard to venture your tastes elsewhere afterward.

The Basics Of Dessert Wine

Something that doesn't need to be reiterated in this sweet wine for beginners blog is that sweet wine and dessert naturally go together. Just thinking about dessert is enough to get your mouth watering for a nice Sauterne accompaniment. A 2oz. glass of dessert wine, a nice mouth filling dessert: a decadent treat for your taste buds, indeed. But let's look at what it means to have a dessert wine accompany dessert.

Serve dessert wine in a 2 oz glass.At its simplest, the term dessert wine means a wine served with dessert. Dessert wines are typically fruity with accents on berry, peach and perhaps honey. The types of desserts that a dessert wine can go with are limitless but the general rule is for the dessert wine to be sweeter than the desserts. If not, the dessert will no doubt over-power the dessert wine.

A dessert wine can stand alone, too, being a dessert unto itself. Many are sweet enough and heavy enough on their own to settle any sweet tooth's desire. These types of dessert wines include Sherry, Port, Eiswein (ice wine) and the Pradikat wines of Germany and Austria (of which Eiswein can be included), Tokay, Vin Doux Naturel, Barsac, Alsace and Anjou-Saumur. California has some dazzling late-harvest wines.

The legal definition of 'dessert wine' varies worldwide. For instance, for a wine to be considered a dessert wine in the U.S. it must contain at least 14% alcohol. Wines of this nature are typically fortified wines like Port and Sherry. Elsewhere in the world the percentage doesn't matter. German dessert wines can be as low as 8%. The same with Moscato from Italy.

Most are produced from late harvest grapes or by fortifying them to stop the fermentation process and retain sugar levels enough to qualify it as a dessert wine. Others dessert wines are affected by fungal rot and still others are let to freeze on the vine or they have raisins added to them to boost sugars. Dessert wines can also vary in weight and sweetness level from light to ultra sweet.

As with any white wine, sweet white wine is best served chilled. Conversely, sweet red wines are served at room temperature. As for the types of dessert to accompany each, both do well with fruit or baked desserts like apple pie or molten chocolate cake. Some can even accompany a rich meal, rather than dessert.

Overall, it is easy for people to be confused on what constitutes a dessert wine or what to serve with it. But using these few tips, it is easy finding a dessert wine for beginners that you can settle on and enjoy.

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Ruster Ausbruch: Austria's Dessert Wine

In the town of Rust (pronounced roost) located in Austria's Burgenland region, a delicious sweet wine for beginners and novices alike is produced from the Furmint and Muscateller grapes. Come late harvest, these grapes are "broken out" (translated from the Austrian word Ausbruch) from frozen clusters, having been affected by Botrytis cinerea or Noble Rot to make the class of sweet dessert wine known as "Noble Wine".

Ruster Ausbruch ranges in sweetness from Spätlese to Beerenauslese, a Pradikatswein designation; however, Ausbruch is solely an Austrian designation. Tradionally made from Furmint and Muscateller blends, the wines produced today are made from cuvees (blends) of Chardonnay, Traminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Welschriesling. Nonetheless high in quality, these are among the best sweet wines in the world!

The process of grape selection is meticulous and involves several hand-picked passes through the vineyard to ensure the highest quality of Ruster Ausbruch produced. Usually these passes occur over several days and only the most perfectly botrytised grapes will make the cut. Others are left to reach their potential and only then are they picked.

The grapes then go through maceration (steeping of wine must to extract color, tannin and aroma) for up to two days depending on the quality level of Botrytis. The grapes are then pressed and fermented to around 12% alcohol, a process taking as long as four months to complete, and finally barreled and left to age for as long as the vintner decides necessary.

In the cellar Ruster Ausbruch can age well up to 50 years where it will evolve into a more rounded, complex, fruity yet dry sweet wine as the sugar levels drop and create a crisp, acidic dessert wine, if such can be imagined.

To get an idea of what these wines are comparable to, think of the Hungarian Tokay or France's Sauternes. While Ruster Ausbruch makes a great dessert wine alongside any number of desserts it can also be treated like Sauternes and be served with Foie Gras, blue-veined cheeses or any buttery, salty or fatty foods for a delicious food experience. Keep the desserts at a moderate sweetness though. You don't want anything that will out-sweet the wine. And as with any dessert wine Ruster Ausbruch can also be served as the dessert itself. Add this one to your list of sweet wines as it is a delectable sweet dessert wine for beginners.

Hungary Makes A Sweet Wine For Beginners

It is not common knowledge, the history of wine in Hungary; but there is a long wine tradition in that country with some of the most famous sweet wine for beginners. As Hungary pushes its way into the spotlight, more are becoming aware of this tradition faster than ever. For a long time Communism rule hid knowledge of Hungarian wines from the world. Not anymore.

Tokaji Aszú: Hungarian sweet wine for beginners.There are as many as twenty regions dedicated to vineyards in Hungary. They've been in operation since the days of the Roman Empire and contain many different grape varieties. With extreme winters and summers the weather in Hungary plays a large role in the viticulture of the country.

This extreme weather creates a diversity of soil conditions that allow wine makers to produce quite a variety of wines, many of them sweet. And many people are unaware of the fact that it is the diversity of climate that accounts for the flavor of many of the fine wines in the world today.

The most renowned sweet wine of Hungary is Tokaji Aszú. It has been part of the Hungarian tradition for centuries. It is a sweet wine the color of topaz that has been affected with Botrytis, or Noble Rot. Known as Tokay in the rest of the world, it is produced in the northeast wine region of Hungary in Tokay, just hours away from Budapest.

Thought to have healing powers, the popularity of Tokaji Aszú was spread in the middle 17th century by European aristocracy who sought after the sweet dessert wine. Today it is still one of the most popular dessert wines available to the world and is even sung about in the Hungarian National Anthem.

Egri Bikavér, or Bull's Blood of Eger, is another common Hungarian food wine. From the name you might surmise this is a red wine, and you'd be correct. It is a sweet red wine of rich dark color. Despite it being a sweet red wine and going well with desserts Egri Bikavér is made more for pairing with food.

If you enjoy sweet dessert wine, you will definitely want to add these Hungarian wines to your list of sweet wines. With a wine tradition as rich as that of France, Hungary continues to produce superior wines for every occasion. Whether it's a bottle of Tokaji Aszú or the rich Egri Bikavér, Hungarian wines will prove to be of high quality. And as more doors open to the world of wine within Hungary, you will be able to find more styles of sweet wine for beginners in your local wine shops.

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Sweet Wine For Beginners: Riesling

Sweet Wine For Beginners

Riesling is a sweet white wine that is made from a grape of the same name. The wines can be dry, sweet, semi-sweet or sparkling, but German Riesling is typically of the sweet variety. They are one of the top three white wines in the world.

Riesling as a sweet wine for beginners.Riesling is thought to have originated in Germany's Rhine region, where the grapes flourish. However, research has found that it was brought to France from Croatia in the days of the Roman Empire, giving this wine a very long history. It is a cross between the Traminer grapes from Italy and Goulais Blanc of France. Red and white grapes respectively, Riesling is made into a white wine only.

The wines can take some aging, but are often consumed young. At this age, Rieslings are very fruity wines with aromas of green apples, grapefruit, peaches, honey, rose blossom and fresh mown grass. Rieslings are naturally crisp, highly acidic with low alcohol levels and because of this high acidity it permits extended aging of the wine. It is also because of this searing acidity that winemakers add residual sugar to balance the wine and to raise the alcohol level.

Some Rieslings, especially the late-harvest varieties, are very expensive. These grapes can become infected with Noble Rot, a type of gray fungus, but this helps the excess water to evaporate from the fruit and concentrates sweetness.

When the grapes freeze whether as a result of frost or intentional freezing, the result is ice wine. Ice wines are very rich and super sweet because of the high concentration of sugar in them and make excellent dessert wines.

Riesling ripens between late September and November in Germany, but is often not harvested until January. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks and is known for its good balance of mineral and fruity flavors.

The wines made in Alsace have higher alcohol content and are mostly dry, full-bodied wines that coat the palette. The tastes and aromas of an Alsace Riesling come out after moderate aging but they are rarely sweet.

Riesling wine from Australia is typically lean with the aromas and flavors of toast, honeycomb and lime. It is common for the wine to ferment in stainless steel which prevents oxidation from occurring. When the wines are young they tend to have an oily texture with citrus flavors, but this balances out as they age.

Riesling does not have a large planting in California, but where it does it is produced as a late-harvest dessert wine. The wines tend to be softer and fuller than German Rieslings and have more complex flavors. Riesling produced in Oregon and Washington ranges from dry to sweet with a crisp lightness that makes it an easy drinking sweet wine for beginners.

Duplin Wines: Best Value Sweet Wine For Beginners

Aside from being the easiest sweet wine for beginners to drink, Duplin (pronounced doop-lynn) Vineyards's claim to fame is being the largest producer of Muscadine and Scuppernong wine in the world. Located in the town of Rose Hill, this North Carolina sweet wine producer was founded in 1976 by the Fussell family. The Duplin Winery vineyards stretch 1,200 acres across 4 states in the South and has a team of 43 dedicated grower partners and their families. Styles of their wines range from off-dry to sugary sweet and all the grapes are of native North American varieties.

Scuppernong Blush

Nothing says 'Welcome to the South' better than a glass of Scuppernong Blush. Each sip bursts with the fruit of the Muscadine grape. It's a blend of Scuppernong and Coastal James grapes, both native North American varieties which create a unique flavor combined that is best served chilled. Often referred to as "Kool Aid with a kick".

Scuppernong

This is the most famous Muscadine variety of Vitis rotundifolia and is native to the southeastern United States, not to mention the oldest wine made in America. Scuppernong wine was noted in To Kill A Mockingbird and is one of the Duplin Winery's best sellers.

Pink Magnolia

This is a blend of the Magnolia and Noble Muscadine grapes. The floral, lightly sweet blush complements spicy dishes requiring a gentle finish. Similar in sweetness to White Zinfandel, Pink Magnolia is considered the blush with a "southern flare."

Carolina Red

It is said that Carolina Red is "like a party in your mouth!" Made from the James variety of Muscadine grapes, there is a burst of flavor in every sip of this sweet, clean finishing wine.

Bald Head Red

Named after Bald Head Island this is a refreshingly sweet wine made of pink Catawba grapes. Delicate floral undertones, it has a soft finish.

Magnolia

This Duplin wine has won the NC Muscadine Cup for three years in a row. Magnolia is a smooth, fruity wine with a crisp finish. It is made from late-harvest Magnolia grapes making it a delicious sweet wine for beginners.

Hatteras Red

The flagship of the Duplin Winery is North Carolina's best selling wine. Refreshingly sweet with intense fruit, Hatteras Red is a dessert wine made from red Scuppernong grapes. It pairs well with dark chocolate desserts or drinks well enough on its own.

If you are looking for a simple, affordable sweet wine for beginners, look no further than to Duplin Winery.

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How Botrytris Cinerea Makes A Great Sweet Wine For Beginners

One sweet wine for beginners has a bizarre origin. One that you would not think would benefit a wine at all. It's a mold that transforms an otherwise tart, timid Semillon into a sumptuous concentration of exotic fruits, honeyed sweetness and creamy viscosity. What is the scientific name of this extraordinary fungus? Botrytris Cinerea. But it is best known as Noble Rot, or in the French translation, Pourriture Noble. As much as this fungus has been studied, the beneficial nature this mold imparts to certain wine grapes like Semillon is still not understood.

Try a Botrytis Semillon of Australia as well!Basically, the cool clime of France around Sauternes and Barsac near the Garonne River is conducive to misty humid mornings that cause Botrytis spores to spring to life. The spores ride in on water molecules from the river and cling to the Semillon grapes. A spore will penetrate the grape's skin and feed off the ripe sugars within. This causes dehydration of the grape's water supply and as it dries up the sugar levels concentrate which preserves the fruit flavors of the grape. The following bright sunny afternoons keep the Botrytis from rapidly turning into the detrimental Grey Rot which turn the grapes into unusable mush.

As the grapes dehydrate they shrivel into raisins with a fungal covering of web-like growth. At the time of harvest grape pickers labor to pick the individually infected berries while leaving the grapes requiring longer hang time. This is why these delectable wines are so expensive, because of the intensive labor required to harvest them. What a harvest of Botrytis affected Semillon grapes amounts to is about one glass of wine per vine.

Unfortunately, as much a treat as these sweet white wines from Bordeaux are, they don't really compete with the more coveted Bordeaux reds that come from the area. Add to that the belief that if it's a bad year for the reds, the whites must not be any good either. The truth is quite the opposite; usually when the reds experience a bad year it's due to unfavorable weather conditions which prove to be very favorable to the sweet white wines of the area.

For example, the conditions in 2007 in the Sauternes and Barsac vineyards were perfect in every respect, producing exceptional quality across the board. The sweet wines exhibit pronounced perfume aromas with marked apricot, musk and honey notes indicative of the effects of Botrytis and high sugar levels. Complex textures, intense fruit flavors and viscous sweetness balance the acidity levels and make these wines great in their youth but are capable of dramatic lifespans reaching easily into the twenty to thirty year mark. If you are looking for a magnificent though somewhat pricey sweet wine for beginners, a 2007 Botrytis Semillon is the sweet wine for you.

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The Best Way To Serve Dessert Wine For Beginners

Another fantastic sweet wine for beginners: dessert wine. Dessert wine has almost always been served with fruit or chocolaty sweets, although it is sometimes enjoyed alone after a meal. Real appreciation of dessert wine for beginners, however, begins with knowing what sets it apart from other types of sweet wine. Food and wine pairing has gone on for as long as wine has been made and some wines just seem to go better with food than on their own. But with dessert wines, traditional rules of food and wine pairing are set aside for personal tastes to match combinations.

The Best Way To Serve Dessert Wine For BeginnersWhile many winemakers may disagree, the production of a fine vintage dessert wine does not have to begin in the vineyard. Though there are a few varieties known for being naturally sweet, many of them need added residual sugar to stave off bitterness. The sugars levels in grapes can be concentrated further by harvesting the wine grapes late or by giving them more sun exposure, both methods can be uniquely difficult to manage.

Because of this many dessert wines are not sweet wines to start because of what happened in the vineyard but by the residual sugar added before or after fermentation. German winemakers increase the amount of sugar by adding grape juice after the fermentation process. This lowers the alcohol content considerably. Other ways to supplement low sugar levels is to use grapes affected with Noble Rot or Botrytis Cinerea, freezing out some of the water or by drying the grapes prior to fermentation in order to produce great sweet wines.

Sweet wine is classified according to the types of grapes used, the alcohol content of the sweet wine, its color and its flavor. These classifications will vary from region to region. For instance, in England dessert wines are considered to be any wine drunk with a meal. In the U.S. a wine is considered a dessert wine with a 14% alcohol or higher alcohol content.

As the definitions differ regionally and by vineyard most agree that dessert wine is the sweetest sweet wine of all. Generally it is not fortified and has a higher sugar and alcohol content than other sweet wine types. Some are as thick as honey.

Some would argue that wine served with a meal should be chosen according to the main ingredient of the meal, for instance, Chardonnay with chicken. While others feel it's all in what you prefer. Regardless of your school of thought on the matter, there is universal consensus that sweet is a taste reserved for dessert, whether with having a dessert wine with dessert or enjoying it all on its own.

However, the best course on deciding whether dessert wine will be served with or without an actual dessert is to taste several dessert wines over time and figure out what suits your palate best as a sweet wine for beginners.

Sweet Wine For Beginners: Semillon

While Semillon is a great sweet wine for beginners it is rarely bottled as a varietal wine on its own because of its neutral flavor. It is a white wine that comes from a golden-skinned grape of the same name and is mainly used as a blend for Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Sautennes for its perfumy aromas. The Semillon wine grape, while native to France, was introduced to Australia in the late 1800's and at one time was the most commonly cultivated grape in South Africa.

The Semillon grape is easy to cultivate. The vines are vigorous, high yielding and disease resistant with the exception of rot. The grapes ripen early, but despite their thick skins, are susceptible to burn when overexposed to hot weather. Semillon is best suited for cultivation in regions with warm sunny days and cool nights. The grape does have an oily texture and the wine produced from it will age well because of this.

Like I said, Semillon is native to France and is the major white wine grape of the sweet wines of Bordeaux and Cotes de Gascogne regions. Australians long believed their vines were Riesling before they caught on. Semillon is susceptible to Botrytis but as you know this is a good thing because it causes the grapes to shrivel which decreases the amount of water and concentrates the sugars and sweetness of the juice, making it a great sweet wine for blends like Conundrum.

In Australia, the complex and dry varieties of Semillon wines are allowed to age in the bottle. The sweet wine is yellow in hue and has aromas of burnt toast or honey followed by a long finish. Dry Semillons have flavors and aromas of green apple, lime or lemon, much like a Viognier.

Australia has mastered sweet Semillon wine as a varietal on its own and the wines are highly prized for their fruity flavors. Malolactic fermentation is used in the production which imparts a butteriness to the wine. They are also aged in oak barrels, which add flavors of vanilla, butter and cream. This helps to round out the crispness of the acidity in the wine.

While Semillon ages quite well and develops exquisite flavors over time, it can be consumed young. Because Semillon tends to have heady aromas it is best served with spicy foods like Thai dishes that use coconut milk and curry. Semillon can also compliment fruit salads, grilled fish or chicken. Whatever the occasion try Semillon as your next sweet wine for beginners.

The Oldest Sweet Wine For Beginners: Muscat

Here is a great sweet wine for beginners: Muscat! It comes in six varieties and is the oldest living variety of grape in the world. There are somewhere around 200 mutations of Muscat known to exist. You can find grapes varying across the color spectrum from white to nearly black and every one of them has a yummy, sweet aroma.

Let's look at the different varieties of Muscat wine found around the world:

  • Muscat Blanc á Petit Grains is most widely used in Spumante, which means sparkling in Italian. It varies in color from white to pink to dark reddish-brown. You might be familiar with Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante

  • Moscato Giallo means yellow Muscat. It too is used for spumantes and can be found as Goldmuskateller or Moscato Rosa and is best known for making the fragrant sweet Muscat wines from Italy's Alto Adige region

  • Muscat Hamburg is a dark-colored variety used mainly as a table grape but also produces red wines like Malbec that are consumed in the countries of Eastern Europe.

  • Muscat of Alexandria is very old and dates back to the time of pharaohs. It is a high-yield Muscat wine grape with have low acid and high sugar content, which generally produces low-quality wines with raisiny characteristics and is usually made into heavy, sweet, golden- to dark-brown liqueurs and sherry

  • Muscat Ottonel thrives in cooler climates and is best known in the dry, perfumy wines of Alsace and rich dessert wines in Austria.

  • Orange Muscat wine has a distinctive orange flavor and is used mostly in California dessert wines.


Because there are so many varieties of Muscat wine, aromas and flavors vary from region to region. There colors are also vastly different and their names do not always characterize this, as Muscat Blanc, or white Muscat, is not always white but is still a great sweet wine for beginners.

Muscat the oldest sweet wine for beginnersThe Muscat grape thrives in the temperate climes of California, southern Europe and the Mediterranean wine regions. It is a late-harvest grape. This is responsible for the sweetness found in Muscat wines.

Chilean Muscat is used to produce table wines as they are to a smaller degree in Italy and California. New York state produces the Muscat Ottonel around the Finger Lake region.
Sparklings, or spumantes, are the main product of Muscat grapes in Italy.

For spumantes the grapes are crushed then chilled. As they warm they ferment to the appropriate alcohol level then sealed in large tanks to trap the CO2. Careful attention is paid to the fermentation process so that it is stopped once the wine achieves the right levels of sugar and alcohol. At this time it is chilled, bottled and allowed to age in the bottle.

The inexpensive bulk Muscat wines in the United States come from Orange Muscat and Black Muscat grapes grown by only one winery in Stanislaus County in California. Napa Valley produces a fortified wine called Muscat de Beaulieu. It is also used as a blending agent in producing the popular Conundrum wine and in an ice wine called Vin de Glaciere.

There's a peak into the sweet wines of Muscat. I hope you are fortunate enough to find one of them in your local wine shop. As a sweet wine for beginners, Muscat wine is one of the great ways to start.

Types Of Sweet Wines For Beginners

Let's Look At Some Sweet Wines

These are the most common sweet wines for beginners produced in the mainstream wine industry. I'll start with the lighter varieties and work up to the heavier dessert wines.

Moscato d'Asti is a light, slightly effervescent (fizzy) but distinctly sweet white wine from Italy's Asti region. It's got clean refreshing acidity but isn't complex. Moscato is low in alcohol so it's easy to drink and even easier to drink when served slightly chilled. It tastes of the perfume that is distinctive of the Muscat grape.

Champagne or any sparkling can be sweet if you find the right kind. Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante is a great sparkling sweet wine for beginners. Lots of bubbles, affordable (under $13) and again from Italy. Asti to be exact. For other sparklings, look for Sec or Demi Sec on the labels.

Fortified Wines like Ports, are made by adding Brandy spirits during fermentation. This actually kills the yeasts that convert sugar to alcohol leaving the wine very sweet, yet spikes the alcohol content well over 18%. Needless to say a little fortified wine goes a long way. If you are looking for a sweet red wine, try a ruby Port. Sherry, another type of fortified wine is made similarly to Port but adds a golden sweet wine made from a different grape variety. And finally, Madeira, made like Port by adding grape spirits to the barrels to stop fermentation before all the sugar is converted by the yeast, is then baked in ovens to carmelize the sugars. You will need to sip them to learn about wine and what it means for a wine to be fortified as you will get a nose full of alcohol from the Brandy and not understand what it is you are sipping. Still, all quite yummy.

Late Harvests - Simply, grapes are left on the vines in the late autumn to ripen to their fullest. The grape clusters can be left to dry on the vines, picked and dried indoors or just laid down on the vineyard ground to shrivel in the sun and do their best impression of a raisin. Late Harvest wines are not usually as complex as Noble Rot or Eisweins but they are full of sticky honey, deep fruit flavors, and floral bouquets. These are sweet white wines.

Grapes to be made into EisweinEiswein or Germany's Ice Wine is made from grapes that are picked during a hard frost while still frozen on the vine. When pressed, the concentrated sugars are separated from the grape's icy water. The ice doesn’t pass into the pressed juice, which makes the wine quite concentrated and sweet. And because they are late-harverst berries, the grapes are very ripe producing captivating sweet tasting wine with extracted fruit and high acidity that make them excellent with food. Eisweins are also produced in Canada and Austria. Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive sometimes costing more than $90 per half bottle. But by far these are the best sweet wines available.

Botrytis cinerea is a rot fungus also known as "Noble rot". Dessert wines made from grapes that have been shriveled by the spore-like fungus that removes water from the grapes, resulting in a higher percentage of concentrated sugars. Damp nights and warm days help dry the grapes to prevent total decomposition. The end result is a syrupy, honeyed wine of decadent proportions. An example of a dessert wine produced this way is the prestigious Sauternes of Bordeaux, which is a Botrytis Semillon, the Tokaji Aszú from Hungary, and Trockenbeerenauslese (TROCK-en-BEHR-en-OWS-lay-zeh) from Germany. Botrytis is not a common occurrence. Only the right conditions of temperature and humidity in perfect vintage years set the stage for Botrytis to appear naturally. That is what is so amazing about any dessert wine labeled Botrytis. These types of wine are also late-harvest wines and can be made into Eisweins.

Types of Grapes Used in Sweet Wines


Some of these are produced as single varietals.

  • Sémillon (Primary grape for Bordeaux Sauternes)

  • Viognier

  • Chardonnay

  • Chenin Blanc

  • Riesling

  • Gewürtztraminer

  • Muscat/Moscato

  • Trebbiano (Vin Santo-Tuscany)

  • Furmint (Primary grape for Hungary's Tokaji Aszú)

  • Grenache

  • Zinfandel (Late Harvest Zinfandel/California)


All of which are great sweet wines for beginners.

Dessert Wines For Beginners

Looking for a wine that is a great sweet wine for beginners? Try a dessert wine! Dessert wines can be desserts unto themselves or simply something complimentary to dessert. Sweetness in a wine is often scoffed at by wine drinkers, a perception indicative of a lack of sophistication or an element of inferiority in wine. But the truth is dessert wines can be inclusive with the most decadent wines out there. Dessert wines for beginners? You lucky noobs, yes. Dessert wines can be a great start for your wine experience.

What makes them sweet? Well last time when we were talking about sweet wine for beginners I mentioned how residual sugar accounts for the sweetness in wine. Residual sugars are the remaining sugars in wine after the fermentation process. Often this creates a balance to the wine's acidity. Vouvray from France's Loire Valley is a great example with its floral and honeysuckle notes. Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape and can have healthy sweetness on the palate but is tempered by the grapes acidity. A great food wine, Vouvray is also a great French dessert wine.

Sauterne: a great dessert wine for beginners!Dessert wines, however, are almost always served with fruit or chocolaty sweets, although they are sometimes enjoyed alone, lightly chilled, after a meal. True appreciation of dessert wine for beginners is knowing what sets them apart from other types of wines.

There are a few grape varieties that are known for as especially sweet dessert wine, like Muscat, but many wine grapes require additional sugars to stave off acidity. The sweetness of grapes can even be enhanced by harvesting them later or by exposing them to more sunlight, both of which can be difficult to control.

As a result, many dessert wines are less a result of the grape growing process, but of the amount of sugar added before or after fermentation. In German dessert wine, for example, sweetness is increased by adding sugars after fermentation, which lowers the alcohol content. Other ways of increasing sweetness include using grapes that have a specific type of mold on them called Botrytis, freezing out some of the water, or drying the grapes before fermentation.

In the past dessert wines were predominantly used as table wines. For this reason, white dessert wine only contains 12.5% alcohol or less today. This means that the alcohol content is so mild that you can almost drink it as a substitute for any beverage during a meal. And it makes for a more enjoyable experience if you have the opportunity to drink from a dessert wine glass, if you're feeling the mood that is.

Riesling dessert wines are becoming more popular and they can be enjoyed with more than just desserts. They go really well with other foodstuffs such as chocolates and various fruits and can even be drunk with foods such as seafood and various pâtés. A good quality Italian dessert wine will have a crisp, sweet taste and leave a nice fruity aroma in your mouth. If you are unsure of which dessert wine is right for your tastes, you might want to read some wine club reviews from popular wine magazines, like Wine Spectator or an even better idea would be to attend as many wine tastings as you can. There are a plethora of dessert wines for beginners out there if you look for them.

I found a great video on dessert wines for you to enjoy:

About Sweet Wine For Beginners

Sweet Wine For Beginners is for anyone who is interested in learning about wine but can't yet find a palate for the dryer, popular wines available on the market. Everyone must start somewhere and sweet wine is a perfect start for beginners. I hope you enjoy this site as much as I am going to enjoy presenting the info to you.

I have been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years and I have heard every question out there from beginners wanting to learn about wine but not knowing where to start. Sweet wine is the answer. While some people can take on the bigger drier wines right away, a good majority of people cannot. I will cover every aspect of sweet wines so that you will have an idea of what sweet wine is right for you.

The best part of Sweet Wine For Beginners is the wording will be kept simple so as not to confuse you. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Leaving a comment in a post is the best way.

I hope you have fun with the site and I hope you gain the wine knowledge you seek here with Sweet Wine For Beginners.

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy for Sweet Wine For Beginners

**Update April 2009 - Privacy Policy**

This website/blog uses third-party advertising companies to serve relative ads when visiting this site. These third parties may collect and use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this site in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, you can visit Google's Privacy Center.

If you wish to opt out of advertising companies tracking and tailoring advertisements to your surfing patterns you may do so at the Network Advertising Initiative.

Google uses the Doubleclick DART cookie to serve ads across its Adsense network. You can get further information regarding the DART cookie at Doubleclick as well as opt out options at Google's Privacy Center

**End Update**


If you require any more information or have any questions about our privacy policy, please feel free to contact us by email at SWFB info.

At Sweet Wine For Beginners, the privacy of our visitors is of extreme importance to us. This privacy policy document outlines the types of personal information is received and collected by Sweet Wine For Beginners and how it is used.

Log Files
Like many other Web sites, Sweet Wine For Beginners makes use of log files. The information inside the log files includes internet protocol ( IP ) addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider ( ISP ), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and number of clicks to analyze trends, administer the site, track user’s movement around the site, and gather demographic information. IP addresses, and other such information are not linked to any information that is personally identifiable.

Cookies and Web Beacons
Sweet Wine For Beginners does not use cookies.

Some of our advertising partners may use cookies and web beacons on our site. Our advertising partners include Google Adsense, Commission Junction, Clickbank, Chitika, Amazon, Kontera.

These third-party ad servers or ad networks use technology to the advertisements and links that appear on Sweet Wine For Beginners send directly to your browsers. They automatically receive your IP address when this occurs. Other technologies ( such as cookies, JavaScript, or Web Beacons ) may also be used by the third-party ad networks to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements and / or to personalize the advertising content that you see.

Sweet Wine For Beginners has no access to or control over these cookies that are used by third-party advertisers.

You should consult the respective privacy policies of these third-party ad servers for more detailed information on their practices as well as for instructions about how to opt-out of certain practices. Sweet Wine For Beginners' privacy policy does not apply to, and we cannot control the activities of, such other advertisers or web sites.

If you wish to disable cookies, you may do so through your individual browser options. More detailed information about cookie management with specific web browsers can be found at the browsers' respective websites.