Best Sweet Red Wines
For many people new to wine, sweet red wines are a great entry point. As a culture, we are used to drinking sweetened drinks from an early age. Jumping directly into a dry, complex red wine may be too much at first. Thankfully, there are some good sweet red wines that are readily accessible online or at your local grocer.
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When longtime wine drinkers talk about sweet wines, they are usually referring specifically to the category of dessert wines. These sweet wines come in a wide range of styles and production methods. Among them, Port, Madeira, and Marsala are the most prominent. There are also many types of specialty sweet wines, including Dolce, Dessert, Sec, Demi-sec, Late Harvest, and more. These are produced to complement sweet desserts. We've included a few ruby ports at the end of our list. These are wines for sipping with your sweet treats. The sweet red wines at the start of the list or more suitable for everyday drinking.
So let's dive in. Here are some of the best sweet red wines.
This is one of the more popular sweet red wines available right now. The winemakers did a nice job of creating a wine that can appeal to a new wine drinker while not overdoing the sweetness. You can enjoy this wine and get a sense of what is to come as you move into drier reds.
Apothic Red is a blend of zinfandel, merlot, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon. We feel that this is a zin driven wine with the flavor profile to match. The wine starts with a blast of ripe dark fruit, think black plums and cherries. Then you get an explosion of berry flavor followed by subtle notes of cocoa and vanilla. There is a fair amount of acidity that helps to balance out the sweetness, but you will get a lot of sweetness from this wine.
The Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz is the only South Africa representation on this list. This affordable wine has a rich red color and semi-sweet taste. The berry scents and flavors are prominent, most notably blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry. There are also traces of dark chocolate. Equally acidic and sweet, the Sweet Shiraz 2017 has a deep, rich color. This is probably the best sweet red wine for beginners.
While it can be enjoyed on its own, the Sweet Shiraz 2017 is also great with a wide variety of savory foods or as an aperitif. Best pairings include aged cheeses, grilled meats, blue cheeses, and Moroccan-spiced lamb.
This grocery store favorite is another excellent choice if you are looking for a sweet red wine. The winemakers took care to create an easy drinking red that will appeal to beginning wine drinkers.
Expect a mouthful of bright red fruit and a nice silky feel to the wine. Think red cherries and maybe a hint of raspberry. The wine finishes with some vanilla from the oak it is aged in. The wine does have a good amount of sugar, but the acidity does balance it a bit. As you would expect, there isn't a ton of complexity, but the wine does have an OK finish and the price is definitely right.
The New Age Red comes in a modern, elegantly designed package. It is a sweet and fruity wine from the Mendoza Province of Argentina and contains around 6% alcohol. Befitting the bottle’s bold design, the wine has an audacious blend of freshness and raspberry/cherry taste. It also has a pleasant mix of violet and rose aromas. The grape varieties used include 30% Malbec and 70% Bonarda.
Owing to its fresh flavor and distinct aroma, the New Age Red is best served chilled. It works well as an aperitif or with dessert.
Cleto Chiarli’s Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile is made from Lambrusco grapes grown in Emilia Romagna, Italy. Like all amabile wines, it has a semi-sweet taste. It is rich in fruity aromas that span a full range of grape scents. This is one of the best sweet and fruity wines around.
This fantastic sweet red wine goes well on its own, as well as with Italian cuisine. If you’re serving it with food, pizza, lasagna, and cured meats are your best choices.
The Ricco Dolce by Carletto is a quality, affordable variety of sweet red wine. It features an excellent combination of nectarine and raspberry flavors and a pleasant, sweet aroma, making it one of the best sweet and fruity wines. The Ricco Dolce also has a bubbly character and a refreshing taste. The wine is made from 30% Malvasia Rosso and 70% Brachetto. The total alcohol content is pretty low at only 6.5% ABV.
Carletto’s Ricco Dolce goes well with desserts. Some of the recommendations include crème brulee, fruit salad, cheesecake, and chocolate
The Chocolate Red Wine from Chocolate Shop is an ideal sweet red wine for beginners. It has a beautiful medium red color and 12.5% alcohol. Dark chocolate and cherry are the most prominent flavors, with cocoa powder undertones. Chocolate Red Wine has a smooth finish with a residual sugar finish.
Chocolate Shop’s Chocolate Red Wine can be served both chilled and at ambient temperature, depending on your preferences. It goes great with sweet desserts.
Named after the town of Oporto (from which they originate), port wines are renowned for their sweetness. Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny Port belongs to the tawny type, a bit on the dry side. It has a nutty character, with intertwining caramel, dried fruit, coffee beans, and green tea aromas.
Graham’s 20-Year-Old Tawny is best served with desserts, such as crème brulee and vanilla ice cream. It is recommended to serve it slightly chilled and in Port glasses to accentuate its rich aroma and complex taste.
Port is arguably the best sweet red wine, or at least the most popular, enjoyed by millions of wine enthusiasts around the world. The ruby variety generally offers more freshness and a stronger attack than the tawny. The Ramos Pinto Fine Ruby Port is one of the best affordable ruby ports out there. It comes in a rich red color and a blend of plum, blackberry, raspberry, and cherry aromas.
This ruby port is best served at room temperature (16-20 degrees Celsius) thanks to its fresh and rich taste. Best pairings include cheese and crackers and sweet desserts.
This fine Zinfandel Port comes from the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in California. It is one of Tierra d’Oro’s most acclaimed ports. Like all ports, it is a strong wine (19% ABV) with a sweet and rich taste. It features aromas of berry fruits, orange peel, and sugar dates, coated with the sweetness of chocolate. Hints of cocoa, toffee, and raisins are also present.
As for pairings, the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port goes best with blue cheeses, particularly the Stilton cheese. It also pairs well with toasted walnuts.
Sweet red wines can serve as a great introduction to red wines, or wines in general. They are generally easier on the tongue than the traditional Bordeaux and Cabernet varieties. While in no way complete, this list of best sweet red wines might give you a good idea as to where to start.