If you’re a beginner taking your first formative steps in the wine world, it can be initially daunting. The experience is very new, from different tastes, aromas, tones, vocabulary, or even pronunciations, diving into the world of wine can be a bit daunting.
Often it’s best to start by tasting and discovering one type. Sweet wine is ideal, as won’t challenge your palate too much too soon. These wines are generally considered easier to sip, because of this higher residual sugar content and usually lower alcohol and tannins. Because of this, they are considered to be welcoming wines for beginners and a good introduction to the world of wine-tasting.
|1. FLO Moscato 2016
|2. Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif 2017
|3. Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017
|4. Banfi Rosa Regale
|5. Chidaine Montlouis Bournais Sec 2018
|6. Boundary Breaks No. 239 Dry Riesling 2017
There are sweet wines found among all the categories of wines. And within those, sweet types can range from light to full in body. This means that the choice can be overwhelming.
To help, we’ve selected, tasted, and reviewed what we consider to be the best sweet wines for beginners.
Best Sweet Wines For Beginners Reviews and Comparisons
1. FLO Moscato 2016
Muscato is a sweet dessert wine with a low alcohol content compared to dry wines, sometimes as low as 5.5 percent. This allows for high sugar content, giving the wine its signature flavor.
Originally native to Northern Italy, the Muscato grape now grows worldwide including, unsurprisingly, in the Napa Valley. And it’s there that FLO (For the Love Of) wines have produced this uniquely Californian example.
They believe that much of today’s Moscato is too sweet, with the excessive sugar overpowering the other components of the wine. They’ve extended the fermentation to reduce the residual sugar, allowing the bright fruits notes and aromatics a chance to shine.
- Variety: Moscato, American White
- Appellation: Napa Valley, California
- Winery: FLO
- Alcohol: 11%
- Bottle: 750 ml, cork
What We Like About FLO Moscato 2016
The typical Moscato notes of apricot and peach are enhanced by honeysuckle, melon, and orange blossom on the nose, and rose petals, lilies, and other florals on the palate.
The mouthfeel is slick but not too syrupy. For sure it’s sweet but never cloying. Rather, sweet but light.
FLO Moscato 2016 is nicely-balanced, bright with fresh aromatics with just the right amount of sweetness. It’s like summer in a glass.
What We Don’t Like About FLO Moscato 2016
It’s all down to one’s personal preference of course, but for some, it won’t be sweet enough for a Moscato.
And at 11% the alcohol content is MUCH higher than the average Moscato, so better take a little care.
- Not overly sweet for a Moscato, but that makes it a good introduction for beginners
- The grape rather than the residual sugar is the star
- Not a typical Moscato
2. Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif 2017
On to the reds with this Californian Durif, a type of Petite Sirah. Because the California Petite Sirah grapes are very small, their skins and seeds are the source of their sweetness, as well as tannin and color.
The Suisun Valley may share the same climate as Napa Valley, but its soil is very different. This makes it ideal for growing the Durif grape. For this reason, winemaker Chuck Wagner wanted to introduce a new Suisun Valley wine worthy of their Caymus marque. As with other Caymus wines, the 2017 Grand Durif doesn’t disappoint.
- Variety: 100% Durif (Petite Sirah), American Red
- Appellation: Suisun Valley, California
- Winery: Caymus
- Alcohol: 9.5%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif 2017
The almost purple body is abundant with the dark fruit of baked, blackberries, blueberries, and plums. Subtler scents of lavender, and white rose petals, give way to stronger ones of pepper, licorice, sweet smoke, and brown spice.
It’s as smooth on the palate as you’d expect. Tannins are high and strong tannins while remaining soft and luxurious. The berries return, followed by chocolate for the long and warm finish.
Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif 2017 can be enjoyed now, but given that it’s still young it has great aging potential. Whenever you open and drink, it should be wonderful with richer meats of beef, lamb, and game.
What We Don’t Like About Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif 2017
You need to be a lover of oak flavors to really enjoy this one. We also found it a little on the heavy side of the palate.
- Rich, inky dark, full-bodied, dark fruit, nice tannins
- Amazing rich red
- A winner!
- A profuse amount of oak
- Decanting made little difference
3. Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017
We return to the Old World of Spain with this Monastrell. With rustic notes that include tar, roasted meats, and tobacco smoke, this grape offers a nice balance of earthly flavors to all that sweet and jammy fruit.
Wine Spectator named this 2017 Tarima Hill Old Vines Monastrell a ‘Smart Buy’, awarding it 92 points. It’s not difficult to see why, and we think that it’s a great choice for sweet wine-drinking beginners.
- Variety: 100% Monastrell, Spanish Red
- Appellation: Valencia, Spain
- Winery: Tarima Hill
- Alcohol: 15%
- Bottle: 750 ml, cork
What We Like About Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017
Tarima Hill is made from old vines, hence the name, grown at an elevation of 2,000-2,500 feet. After harvesting and pressing, the grapes are aged for 20 months in French oak. This environment and process result in the sumptuous cherry color with a hint of intense ruby.
The bouquet on the nose is sweet with the mature fruit of raspberries, blueberries, and blueberry liqueur. But enough spice, graphite, and hints of balsamic for earthiness. And the florals aren’t forgotten with acacia flowers.
Swirl it in the glass and you’re drawn to its full-body, which is matched by the rich mouthfeel on entry. It reveals a beautiful bruiser of wine with ripe black fruit, leather, and spice notes. Another wine to enjoy with roasted red meats, but also with a ragu or other red sauce with pasta.
What We Don’t Like About Tarima Hill Old Vines 2017
Is it too earthy for a sweet wine? Too heavy and syrupy? We were split and couldn’t quite decide. You’ll have to judge for yourself.
- The best Monastrell from old vines up to 90 years old
- Complex and delicious
- Excellent value
- Too strong clove-like taste
- Bitter on the front
4. Banfi Rosa Regale
This is a sparkling Rose from Italy, but darker and sweeter than the norm. That’s because it’s made from Brachetto, an aromatic and complex sweet grape variety that grows only in the Acqui Terme region, in Southern Piedmont.
Its wine is called Brachetto d’Acqui, and as it’s only produced here it has a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or Controlled Designation of Origin (DOCG) classification; the highest in Italy. Every DOCG wine is tasted and analyzed by government licensed judges panel before being bottled, and then guaranteed with a numbered governmental seal across the cork.
Brachetto d’Acqui wines are light ruby red in color, low in alcohol, and range from off-dry to very sweet. This Banfi Rosa Regale is at the sweeter end and has been rated among the top 2% of all wines in the world, and is a silver medallist at the prestigious Los Angeles Wine Competition.
- Variety: 100% Brachetto, Italian Sparkling Rose
- Appellation: Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy
- Winery: Banfi
- Alcohol: 7%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Banfi Rosa Regale
Vinified from Brachetto grapes grown in a single vineyard. Their cold maceration followed by a soft pressing extracts ion of the typical intense strawberry and aromas from the skins and gives to the wine its characteristic light ruby red color. The wine is then filtered and stored at 0°C before refermentation follows in stainless steel tanks to achieve its final sweetness and sparkling character.
Very pleasant and extremely elegant for not only a celebration but for any occasion as an aperitif. It pairs well with spicy cuisines and seafood but is also for enjoying it at the end of a meal with cheeses, berries, fruit salad, or another sweet dessert. Although it’s with chocolate that it really, thanks to the aromatic hints of rose petals and raspberries.
What We Don’t Like About Banfi Rosa Regale
Just be sure not to mistake it for a typical rose. It’s not! The raspberry sweetness can be an acquired taste and one that’s too sweet for many drinkers. But we think that it’s one well-worth acquiring.
- Sweet but not cloying so
- Refreshingly low in alcohol
- A sexy finish that seemingly lasts forever
- You better love raspberries
- Not for you if you like your booze to taste like booze
5. Chidaine Montlouis Bournais Sec 2018
From the Loire Valley of France, Chenin Blanc isn’t necessarily always sweet but is usually considered a dessert wine.
This 2018 Francois Chidaine Montlouis Les Bournais received a rave review and 96 points from Antonio Galloni’s Vinous. It’s not difficult to see why, and we agree with Galloni’s assessment that it’s a “wine of mind-blowing complexity and nuance… Les Bournais dazzles from the very first taste.”
When it comes to food pairing, a Chenin Blanc matches with rich dishes since the acidity cuts through the fat. It pairs effortlessly with spicy cuisines, pork, and duck, and also with cheeses and sweet desserts for after.
- Variety: 100% Chenin Blanc, French White
- Appellation: Montlouis, Loire Valley
- Winery: Francois Chidaine
- Alcohol: 14%
- Bottle: 750 ml, cork
What We Like About Chidaine Montlouis Bournais Sec 2018
The winemaker François Chidaine is a pioneer of natural viticulture, with deep love and respect for the soils of Montlouis-Sur-Loire in the Loire Valley. He has embraced regenerative farming, and with some aplomb, if this wine is anything to go by.
Certified Organic & Biodynamic, that love, and respect for the soils can be sensed and tasted in this Chidaine Montlouis Bournais Sec 2018.
An aromatic nose of honey, lemon, minerals, toasted bread, white flowers & apple.
Dried flowers, lime, mint, lemon, and tangerine seduce on the palate. It’s as delightful as it sounds.
It’s like liquid gold in the mouth, managing to be translucent, substantial, and dense all at the same time. The balance is of course perfect. This is masterful winemaking that you can drink now through to 2035.
What We Don’t Like About Chidaine Montlouis Bournais Sec 2018
With a wine this good, what’s not to like? Some might find it too rich, and lacking a little in freshness. If they were being particularly harsh!
- Top wine from François Childane, an absolutely stunning Chenin Blanc
- Nectar of the gods!
- Worth every penny, and more. What a bargain!
- Fairly short finish
6. Boundary Breaks No. 239 Dry Riesling 2017
Perhaps the best-known sweet wine is Riesling. Hailing from the Rhine region of Germany, it’s loaded with aromas that range from perfumed florals to apples, pears, and peaches.
The esteemed Robert Parker, Jr’s Wine Advocate calls this 2017 Boundary Breaks No. 239 Dry Riesling as “pretty gorgeous” and a “super-bargain”.
Like eating spicy Asian cuisines like Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian? Then this is one for you. The beautiful ripe fruit and crisp acidity for balance make it perfect. Or even if you just want to drink it on its own as a luscious aperitif.
- Variety: 100% Estate Grown Riesling, American White
- Appellation: Finger Lakes, New York
- Winery: Boundary Breaks
- Alcohol: 12.3%
- Residual Sugar: 8g/L
- Bottle: 750 ml, cork
What We Like About Boundary Breaks No. 239 Dry Riesling 2017
Boundary Breaks winery harvests the fruit for this wine much later than is typical for most dry Rieslings. This means riper fruit contributes unusually tropical flavors. Balanced by bracing acidity, this wine is clean and transparent, yet bright and powerful.
Aromatic notes on the nose of crushed limestone, freshly zested lime, and white flowers jump-start this wine. On the palate, you’re first struck by the ripeness of the fruit, which is surprisingly rich for a dry type of Riesling.
But the dry medium-bodied hosts a complex mix of earthy and spicy elements alongside the fruit, with flavors of crunchy yellow apple, lime, fresh ginger, and wet stone. A tangy white-plum-skin note adds a hint of sugar on the end.
What We Don’t Like About Boundary Breaks No. 239 Dry Riesling 2017
While easy-going and refreshing, it’s not an especially complex Riesling.
With more minerality than we’re used to, it’s almost a bit too sweet for a dry Riesling. It needs a bit more of a crisp finish and without it is neither one thing (dry) or the other (sweet).
- A nice, not too sweet, balanced dinner pairing
- An explosion of fruit, pear, and light lemon zest
- Enough acidity to balance the fruit but retains a smooth finish
- Not quite what you expect from a dry Riesling
- Can’t decide if it’s sweet or dry
Sweet wines have often been snobbishly derided in the past, sometimes with good reason. But they have more refinement than they are accredited for, and appreciation of that is increasing.
These sweet wines for beginners will definitely open new wine-tasting appreciation and experiences. We’ve included a wide range of sweet wines, to illustrate their breadth and diversity, so as to help you in what will hopefully be just the start of your journey on the wine discovery path.
If we have to declare just one as the best sweet wine for beginners, then it’s perhaps a little surprise from our reviews that we say Chidaine Montlouis Bournais Sec 2018.