New wine drinkers figure out pretty quickly that the liquid in their wine glass doesn’t taste anything like grape juice.
Good sweet wines for beginners include: Moscato d’Asti, White Zinfandel, Cabernet d’Anjou, off-dry Riesling, Vin Doux Naturel, Demi-Sec and Doux Champagne, Port, and Sauternes. Wines come in a range of sweetness levels, so you have lots to choose from. Wines with a little sweetness in them are an excellent choice for new wine drinkers.
Here’s an overview of fun sweet wine styles worth exploring.
What Affects How Sweet a Wine Tastes?
A wine’s structural components affect how sweet a wine tastes. Here’s how it works:
- Sugar: Residual sugar leftover from unfermented grape juice or added back to the wine after fermentation will add sweetness.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can have a slightly sweet taste to it.
- Acidity: Acid helps fruit taste fresh, vibrant, and juicy. Higher acid wines may have a little sugar added to them to help balance them out.
- Tannin: Tannins are the drying sensation in your mouth after you take a sip of red wine. Sugar helps mask tannins, making your red wine seem smoother.
- Oak: Toasted oak can add perceptions of sweetness with caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla.
Check out these good sweet wines for beginners. I’d recommend them to anyone who’s just starting out in wine.
Helpful Tip: Go check out this post on how to find affordable wines for beginners with tips to save you money (I put this together just for you if you’re getting started.)
Pour Yourself Moscato d’Asti Wines
Moscato d’Asti wines make light, aromatic, low-alcohol white wines that have a delicate sweetness to them. The easy-drinking Moscato d’Asti will always be refreshing with a slight spritz to it.
Your Moscato d’Asti will have white flower, grape, melon, and maybe some stone fruit to it, like peach or nectarine.
Even wine drinkers who prefer dry wines find occasions to enjoy Moscato d’Asti which is just a fun, friendly wine.
As an added bonus, Moscato d’Asti wine are affordable and widely available in most markets.
Moscato d’Asti wines are made in large volumes, reducing labor costs, which translates into affordable bottles for you. This is a wine worth your attention!
Moscato d’Asti wines have less acid than Riesling. This can make Moscato d’Asti a more approachable sweet wine for a beginner.
Find a White Zinfandel
White Zinfandel is a pink wine (rose) made from the red Zinfandel grape. White Zins wines are always a little sweet with strawberry, raspberry, and melon notes.
White Zinfandel’s affordable and readily available in the US market, both wherever wine is sold and at most restaurants.
White Zinfandel’s actually considered a gateway wine and an excellent introduction to wine drinking thanks to its easy-drinking style.
Seek Out Cabernet d’Anjou
Cabernet d’Anjou is the higher-quality cousin of White Zinfandel. This wine is from the Loire region in France and is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, two red grapes. Cabernet d’Anjou wine is always off-dry to semi-sweet and pink (rosé).
Expect strawberry, raspberry, rose, and maybe even a little white pepper in your glass.
Uncork Riesling Wines
Reisling (pronounced ree-sling) is a white German wine now grown around the world. Reisling can be bone dry or lusciously sweet. These wines will be beautifully aromatic with jasmine, lemon, apple, and maybe even a hint of petrol.
If you want an off-dry Riesling, double check the back of the label for a little sweetness indicator scale which is increasingly common to help you choose the style you’re looking for. As a general rule, lower alcohol Rieslings are sweet.
Helpful Tip: If you want a super-sweet Riesling, look for ‘Late Harvest’ or ‘Spätlese’ (in German). These wines are made with riper grapes for a sweeter wine style. (Here’s a full post on Riesling wine.)
Try a Vin Doux Naturel
Fortified Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) wine comes from southern France and means “wine sweet natural”. The sugar in VDN wines comes naturally from grape juice that doesn’t get fermented into alcohol.
Vin Doux Naturel is a fabulous wine for beginners that has all of the complexities of dry wine but a round, softness that will leave you pouring a second glass.
VDN wines come in both red and white styles that are sweet and fruity.
Tip: Check out this overview post of VDN wines and how to chose a VDN wine.
VDN wines are uncommon and you won’t find them at your local liquor store.
You’ll need to source VDN wines from a specialty wine shop.
That said, VDN wines are unique, vibrant expressions of the grape worth your time and effort to seek out if you’re looking for sweet wines.
Drink Demi-Sec or Doux Champagne
Champagne, the classic French sparkling wine, comes in dry styles, but also sweeter versions. Demi-Sec (half-dry) Champagne has 32-50 grams per liter of sugar, which is the equivalent of about 6-9 teaspoons per 5 ounce glass. Doux (dry) Champagne has over 50 grams per liter of sugar, which is the equivalent of more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per standard glass.
Don’t worry. Demi-sec and Doux Champagne wines won’t feel sticky sweet.
Champagne’s naturally high acidity helps to balance out all that sugar. Champagne brings delightful effervescence, crunchy apple, citrus, and biscuit notes to your glass.
Demi-sec and Doux Champagnes aren’t common sparkling wine styles.
You’ll probably need to visit a specialty shop to find these. The more common ‘Brut’ Champagne may have some sugar in it, but you probably won’t be able to taste it because of the high level of acid in the wine.
Grab a Port
Fortified Port wines are perfect for new wine drinkers because they’re packed with flavor intensity – rich red and black berry, mocha, and chocolate. Port wines balance high alcohol with sweetness, making them wonderful sweet wines for new wine drinkers. Pair your port with dark chocolate for a decadent experience.
Careful! Port wines are high-alcohol, between 19%-22%. The wine’s sugar acts to mask the alcohol’s burn. These wines are absolutely delicious and easy to drink, which can catch up with you if you’re doing generous pours.
Look for Ruby or Tawny Ports if you want a less expensive, entry-level Port. Colheitas and age-indicated Ports (e.g., 10-year old Port) will be higher quality and reflect that with their pricing.
Helpful Tip: Go check out this post on Port wines for a deep dive on a classic fortified wine style so worth your time.
Swirl a Glass of Sauternes
Sauternes wine is made from white Semillon grapes. The shriveled grapes have a fungus on them, called Nobel Rot, that pierces the grapes’ skins and dehydrates them.
This process concentrates sugar, acid, and flavors making lusciously sweet golden nectared wines.
Not to worry! The wine is perfectly safe and the winemaking process kills off the fungus.
Sauternes are excellent wines for new drinkers (French children often get introduced to wine through Sauternes).
Expect butterscotch, marmalade, honey, mango, peach, and white flower in Sauternes. Pair Sauternes wines with cream and fruit-based desserts like creme brulee or tarts.
Tip: Here’s a more in-depth post on everything about Semillon wine.
You can find less-expensive Sauternes-style wines made with Semillon from Australia. Look for the words ‘late harvest’ on the label. Unfortunately, the weather conditions don’t allow the wine to be made every year, so if you come across these bottles during holiday sales, grab some!
Final Thoughts – Good Sweet Wines for Beginners Abound
If you’re looking for a good sweet wine for beginners, then you’ve got lots of options.
You can find a wide range of wine styles for any taste preference, including wines with a little sweetness to them.
If you’re a beginner wine drinker looking for excellent sweet wines, start with a White Zinfandel or a Moscato d’Asti as affordable entry-level wines, then branch out to some of the more unique sweet wines made around the world.
Cheers to exploration!
Thirsty for more?
Check out this post that dives into how to figure out if the bottle you’re holding is a sweet wine or not. You have to use those label clues!
And here’s a post that covers why some wines are sweet.
Helpful Tip: Go check out this post that will help you figure out how to read a wine label.
If you’re just getting started, head over to this post that covers the primary winegrowing regions around the world and their main grapes.