We all love a deep and complex Italian red wine to help us relax after a hard day at work. And we all love the refreshing jolt that a great Italian white wine can give us when we’re feeling hot, stressed out, and unready to take on the rest of the day.
But sometimes, the occasion calls for something a little sweeter than the regular types of wine that you normally drink. Sometimes, you want something that will stimulate your sweet tooth and introduce you to a host of new flavours that you don’t get from other types of wine.
That’s when an Italian sweet wine should be your wine of choice for the evening. These wines typically have sharper and sweeter flavours than their red and white brethren, which makes them ideal choices for combining with sweet desserts. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the techniques that producers use to make their wines sweeter. Then, we’ll take a look at a few sweet wines that we recommend everybody gives a try if they fancy something a little different.
What is a Sweet Wine?
Sweet wines carry several names, with some calling them dessert wines while others call them pudding wines. However, they all have one thing in common. Sweet wines tend to have a much higher sugar content than other types of wine.
The differences usually come in the methods that producers use to make their wines sweeter than normal. Among the most popular methods are the following:
- Using various growing techniques to ensure that the grapes they produce naturally contain more sugar than they normally would. Over-ripening can often lead to this. The natural method of increasing sugar often leads to the resulting sweet wine having a higher alcohol volume as well.
- Adding sugars to the wine at some point during the fermentation process. Some choose to do this by adding honey or sugars to the wine prior to fermentation, whereas others use unfermented must to give the wine a sugar boost after it’s been fermented.
- Removing water from the grape to create more concentrated sugars inside it. For example, a producer may dry out the grape to create raisins before making a wine. Alternatively, they may freeze the grape to get rid of the water, thus creating ice wines.
- The addition of another alcohol into the mix during the fermentation process. This is also known as fortification, which we intend to examine in more detail in another article.
As mentioned, each of these methods produce different types and flavours of wines, just like the many varied production methods that winemakers use when creating red and white wines.
Nevertheless, the key similarity is that each of these methods leads to the creation of a wine that’s sweeter than it would have been if it was left to ferment naturally and of its own accord.
So, that’s the basic idea behind sweetened wines. It’s also worth pointing out that sweet wines can also be classified as red and white wines. In fact, they often are. But they’re also classified as sweet because of their higher sugar content. Comparing a company’s dry red with its sweet, assuming they make one of each, is often an interesting wine tasting experiment in itself.
But that’s neither here nor there. We’re sure that you’d like to find out more about some of the sweet wines that the Xtrawine team recommend. Here are a few of our favourites.
Avignonesi Vin Santo
Yes, we know what you’re thinking already. This wine carries a particularly high price tag, so it may not be the best choice for those who are looking to try Italian sweet wines for the first time. However, there’s no denying the sheer quality on display with the Avignonesi Vin Santo 0.375L 2000.
Made using withered white wine grapes, the wine comes from Tuscany and has an attractive amber colouring. When introduced to the nose, you’ll immediately detect notes of candied fruits and grapes, all of which hint at the sweetness of the wine. However, a little more exploration actually reveals some more subtle mineral and tobacco notes for those who still like a challenge with their wines.
The wine also has a good acidity, which offers balance to the higher sugar content on display. The long finish will leave you wanting more, even as you’re sitting back to enjoy it. The 12.5% alcohol volume gives it a good kick and its best served slightly chilled.
Umani Ronchi Sauvignon Passito Maximo
The Umani Ronchi Sauvignon Passito Maximo 0.375L 2014 is another gorgeous sweet white wine. Only this one emanates from the Marche region and carries the IGT tag.
The wine has a shining gold quality to it, but it’s the bouquet that really impresses. You’ll notice notes of orange peel and apricot, with more subtle notes of honey, saffron, and ginger lurking in the background. We’re also big fans of the slightly mineral notes that peek their heads out on occasion.
It’s a soft and sweet wine to the taste, but it has a freshness that’s sure to perk you up after a busy day. The slightly spicy taste adds an extra element that contrasts well with the sweetness.
It has a 13% alcohol volume and is also best served slightly chilled.
The beautifully unique bottle is the first thing that you’ll notice about this wine, but it wouldn’t mean much of the wine inside wasn’t of a high quality.
Thankfully, it is. Another wine from the Marche region, this wine offers notes of apricot, sage, acacia, and ripe fruits. There’s also an interesting hay note that brings it back down to Earth slightly.
To the taste, it offers a full and aromatic experience that is surprisingly complex. You’ll enjoy the lingering finish almost as much as you enjoyed drinking the wine.
Much like the other wines on this list, it’s best served slightly chilled. It also has the highest alcohol volume of the three that we’ve looked at, clocking in at 13.5%.