Purchase sweet wine: The list of sweet white wines
How is a sweet white wine defined?
A good sweet white wine is a sweet wine , with often velvety aromas.
It is the sugar content after fermentation that defines the type of wine. According to the regulations, sweet wines must contain between 12 and 45 grams of sugar per litre . Below this proportion, white wine is said to be dry ( blanc-sec , i.e. unsweetened) or demi-sec (a little sweet). Beyond 45 grams, it is a sweet wine.
There are also so-called natural sweet white wines. This corresponds to wines obtained by mutage, that is to say the interruption of the fermentation process by adding alcohol. These wines also have a mellow character.
How do you get a good sweet white wine?
Sweet white wine is obtained from specific winemaking processes. The selection of the grape, during the so-called white harvest, is very important.
To obtain a high concentration of residual sugars (i.e. sugar remaining after fermentation), winegrowers have the choice between several techniques:
- Harvesting grains affected by noble rot ;
- Raising (drying of the grains on the stalks) ;
- Frozen grains (the gel allows a better concentration of sugar);
- The drying of the grains after the harvest .
Viticulture and winemaking require real know-how and great passion. Each winemaker has his own way of working and to help you understand the difference between biodynamic white wines, organic white wines and natural white wines, we wrote an article.
Sweet whites by region
Here are some examples of sweet white wines :
- Alsace wines
- Upper Montravel
- the Jurancon
- the Vouvray
- the Coteaux du Layon
Sauternes, the sweet star of Bordeaux
Sauternes is renowned throughout the world for the quality of its mellow white.
This good white wine goes very well with festive meals, and goes particularly well with foie gras and desserts.
The Sauternes appellation designates the wine produced in a delimited geographical area, located on the Côte des Graves, on the banks of the Gironde. In order to be able to use this appellation, the wine must also have been made from noble rot .
The grape varieties that serve as the basis for this mellow are of course the three great white grape varieties of Bordeaux : Sauvignon, Muscadelle and Sémillon. These have largely proven themselves in the production of sweet wines and sweet wines .
The Bordeaux region well known for its good red wines also produces other excellent sweet white wines such as Barsac and Loupiac . The wine produced under these appellations follows the same principles as those of Sauternes. Indeed, the same techniques and the same grape varieties are the basis of these whites.
Alsace, expert in exceptional sweet wines
Alsace is unmissable for some of its grape varieties , such as Gewurztraminer , Pinot gris and Riesling . The Alsatian vineyards produce marvelous wines and renowned grands crus.
The Alsatian appellation “ Vendanges Tardives ” corresponds to wines whose harvest has been delayed. This makes it possible to use a particularly ripe grape, which will thus be more heavily loaded with sugar. The wine then also releases a bouquet of more powerful and more amber fruity aromas , with notes of candied fruit and exotic fruits.
Moreover, Alsace being a cold region in winter, some harvests can take place after the grains have frozen. This then makes it possible to produce a white called “ Vin des Glaces ”, which brings a real dose of freshness to the tasting. This type of wine is one of the essentials of the region although it is very rare.
As for Sélection Grains Nobles wines, they are only produced during particularly favorable years. These exceptional years must combine a certain number of climatic conditions.
Their aromas of honey, candied fruit, or even botrytis linger in the mouth and bring a very pleasant roundness . This type of wine is extremely good with foie gras or desserts and offers you a nice finesse on the palate.
Gewurztraminer goes very well with some Asian dishes .
The Loire, from Montlouis to Vouvray, via the unmissable Coteaux du Layon
The Loire is a very vast region in terms of wines. It produces a wide variety of wines, including good sweet white wines.
Its most famous sweets are the Coteaux du Layon , the Vouvray and the Montlouis-sur-Loire.
Although the three appellations use the same grape variety, Chenin, they present a very different aromatic palette . The soils are made up of different minerals, which affects the taste of the wine.
You can often discover notes of dried fruit, honey or marmalade, and appreciate their colors, which vary between golden yellow and more amber colors.
Jurançon, sweet pride of the South
Jurançon is produced in the heart of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, right in Béarn. It is often consumed there as an aperitif.
It is made from two grape varieties: Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng . The technique used for harvesting is that of successive selections. It makes it possible to obtain the desired quantity of residual sugars.
When tasting this wine, you can find notes of cinnamon, honey or even candied fruit.
The Jura and its ancient grape varieties
In terms of wine, the Jura is a region a bit apart. Indeed, all the grapes used in this area come from ancient varieties. Moreover, apart from Chardonnay , all these grape varieties are only produced in the Jura.
This makes Jura wines quite unique.
The Vin de Paille du Jura is a sweet wine, made from the best bunches of grapes. These are selected and dried for months (traditionally on straw) before being pressurized. It is thanks to this that the sugar concentration is guaranteed. Its mandatory aging in oak barrels also gives it a light woody taste , very pleasant on the palate.
The information in this article should give you a background for exploring sweet wines. Nevertheless, nothing beats a tasting of the best sweet white wines !
The criteria of excellence for a good sweet white wine
Patience is a beautiful virtue and to do beautiful things, sometimes you have to take the time. Sweet white wines come from late harvests, ie later than the classic harvest, so there are greater risks for winegrowers. The weather conditions are very important to obtain grapes with good maturity , especially since the noble grains (grapes from late harvests) develop a fungus (botrytis) and so that it remains controllable, the humidity must not take the above.
A well-controlled sweetness, here is the secret of a good sweet white wine. Sweeter than a dry white wine and slightly less sweet than a sweet one, sweet white wine is a fine balance of finesse and indulgence.
The fermentation of a sweet white wine is also longer than that of a dry white wine because botrytis (noble rot) slows down the work of the yeasts.
The great sweet white wines are also bottled late, sometimes up to three years after vinification, so that they continue to develop their aromas and increase their aging potential.
The purchase of wine leaves nothing to chance, so when choosing your sweet white wine, select a good vintage , ie a year where the climatic conditions were favorable to good growth of the vines.
Sweet white wines that are easy to taste
Is sweet white wine reserved for expert tasters ? Of course not ! If the sweet wine is more original by its very high sugar content, which may displease some people, the sweet wine is on the other hand very balanced and easier to drink. If you've never tasted one, don't hesitate to ask your wine merchant for help so that he can direct your choice towards a good, mellow white that meets your expectations.
The advantage of this wine is that it goes perfectly with small sweets and gourmet dishes. Like a candy, it delicately caresses your palate while bringing freshness and explosiveness to the mouth. If you want to try your hand at sweet wines, we recommend our Côtes-de-Bergerac , produced hand in hand with François in Thénac, all ready from here. This wine with a delicate nose of white fruits and flavors of honey sounds like a ray of sunshine on a spring afternoon!
Food and wine pairings with a sweet wine
Time for tasting, it's our favorite part! It's better to be alone than badly accompanied, that's for sure, but when you can be well accompanied it's even better.
To accompany your wine, do not hesitate to vary between sure values and more eccentric ideas. We are well aware of the combinations of dishes and wines from the same region that work all the time, for example a good organic wine from Alsace with an Alsatian gratin with morteau sausage , it sticks to the body and it works!
Lighter , the accompaniments based on seafood such as white fish, shellfish, seafood, are a real breath of fresh sea air to indulge yourself on a summer evening. Of course, in winter it also works with marinière mussels or the famous oysters as a starter for New Year's Eve.
Then show off your cooking skills by experimenting with more surprising combinations . Sweet white wine is silky and delicious, so why not accompany it with a dessert? Our Pear Pavlova recipe is made for that!