People who are new to wine drinking often start with a sweet red or white wine before their palate can learn to appreciate a dry wine. This article looks at some of the types of sweet white wine that are available on the market.
Sweet White Wines From France
Many people’s first taste of wine comes with a sip of champagne at Christmas or at a wedding, but champagne is generally considered to be in a class of its own rather than included with France’s sweet white wines. There are eight varieties of white grape used in French wines, but not all of them are sweet.
Chenin Blanc can be used to make both dry and sweet white wines. Coteaux du Layon is well known for its sweet white wines made from Chenin Blanc grapes. The most highly regarded of these wines are the ones coming from Chaume.
Muscadelle is a white grape from the Bordeaux region that is used in making Sauternes, sometimes called “the king of sweet white wines”. It is a delicate dessert wine that also goes well with seafood and foie gras.
Sweet White Wines From Italy
Passito wines are a type of Italian dessert wines made with dried, late harvest grapes. Vinsanto is a type of passito that comes in white or red varieties and is usually served with a type of almond cookie called cantucci, which are dunked in the wine before eating.
Asti spumanti is the Italian equivalent to champagne; a sweet, sparkling white wine with more sugar than its French counterpart. Asti spumanti goes well with strawberries and is best served at 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sweet White Wines From The Rest Of The World
I will not deal with New World wines here, since they generally use imported grape varieties from Europe. Instead, I will briefly survey some of the most popular sweet white wines from other countries.
Cava is another champagne equivalent, this time from Spain. It used to be referred to as Spanish champagne, but this is no longer permitted under EU law, which specifies that only wines actually produced in the Champagne region of France are allowed to be referred to as champagne. Cava ranges from extra dry to sweet, with sweet varieties being labeled “Dulce”.
Greek wines have a bad reputation due to the cheap, nasty retsinas served at the tourist hotspots, but wine lovers have started to discover some fine varieties in recent years. Moschato Aspro (white Muscat) is the most popular variety of grape and produces the sweet wines of Samos, which have even been praised by the French, who are not quick to compliment wines other than their own.
Finally, China, as in so many other areas, is emerging as a wine producing nation. The preference among Chinese wine drinkers is for sweet white wines, which are starting to appear in American stores. As yet, these are not highly regarded by wine lovers, but then neither were Californian wines at one time, so who knows what the future will hold?