Strongest Sweet Wine: 10 Options to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

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Sweet wines are famous among wine lovers, and they come in various styles and flavors and pair with everything from desserts to cheeses to cured meats. However, not all sweet wines are equal; some are stronger and harsher than others. 

Sweet wine is generally considered a more merciful wine. It usually tastes sweet, fruity, and fresh, making it very easy to drink and, more often than not, stronger than dry wines, for instance. 

The beauty of wine lies in its versatility, and no wine rule applies to all types of wine. Naturally, sweet wine is no exception to this rule not applying to all wines.

However, since wine is the elixir of the gods, there has to be something very special about it, making it worthy of this superlative. 

Contrary to popular opinion, sweet wine can be strong and smack you nicely if you go overboard. Since it drinks easily, sweet wine is very deceptive and can easily trick you into thinking it’s not strong.

Sweet wine, and wine in general, is a sipping drink, so it doesn’t tolerate being jugged. Nevertheless, if the sweet wine is intense, it will still get you drunk pretty quickly, even if you sip it by the book. Therefore, knowing which sweet wines are strong is nice so that you come prepared. 

Also check: 15 Best Sweet Red Wines

So, Which Are the Strongest Sweet Wines? 

The alcohol content is the most significant factor in a wine’s strength. We all know that alcohol comes from sugar, so the higher the sugar amount, the higher the alcohol content.

The sugar comes from the grapes and is converted in the fermentation process. So, the sweeter the grapes, the more sugar they will release. 

That said, sweet wine comes from grapes with a higher sugar content, and therefore sweet wines generally have a higher alcohol content than dry wines, ranging from 14% to 20%. 

Some sweet wines have an alcohol amount exceeding 20%, bringing them closer to spirits regarding alcohol content. So, just for comparison, imagine what a spirit does and replicate it to sweet wine. This image should help you better understand how strong sweet wines can be. 

However, the alcohol amount isn’t the only factor determining the strength of sweet wine. The fermentation process is also a strong predetermination factor in this regard.

Fortification, for example, adds brandy or a spirit to the fermentation process, which preserves the sweetness of the grapes and increases the alcohol content. The sweet wines that have been fortified are significantly stronger. 

The aging process is the third factor that decides how strong the sweet wine will be. The longer the wine ages, the stronger it becomes as aging raises the alcohol content of wine. 

These three factors, summed up, determine how strong the sweet wine will be, but you cannot look into each one before having some. Therefore, I will list ten of the strongest sweet wines in this article so you know what you are getting into. 

Strongest Sweet Wine: 10 Best Options!

Finally, let’s look at some of the strongest sweet wines on the market and make a wise pick!

1. Port Wine


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Port wine is a fortified wine from the Douro Valley in Portugal. It’s made using the classic method, i.e., by adding brandy to stop the fermentation process and preserve the sweetness of the grapes. 

As I already mentioned, the fortification process increases the alcohol content, which can reach more than 20%. Port wine is rich, fruity, and full-bodied with a deep ruby color. The wine usually ages in oak barrels, making it complex and deep. 

On the nose, it’s somewhere between a spirit and wine, combining the fruity and ethanol aromas. Port wine is a famous dessert wine, but it pairs excellently with cheese too.

Meaty snacks aren’t its thing, so except for cheese, it hardly goes with anything savory. 

2. Madeira Wine 


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Madeira wine is another famous fortified wine coming from the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal. Like Port wine, Madeira wine is made using the same method, adding brandy to the wine during fermentation. 

The alcohol content of Madeira wine can range from 18% to 22%, so it is pretty much as strong as the Port. However, unlike the Port, Madeira wine is nutty with a sweet finish and isn’t as fruity. 

Madeira wine’s aging process makes it special, giving it its nuttiness. While wines traditionally age sealed and protected from the elements, Madeira wine is to heat and oxygen while aging. 

Due to this process, Madeira wine has a deep and rich amber color and a caramelized flavor, reminding a great extent of caramelized sugar. The wine is known as an after-dinner but not a dessert wine.

It’s meant to pair with nuts, cheeses, and smoked meats. It’s the finger food of wines, as it isn’t meant to fill you up but tease you with its vibrancy and complexity. 

3. Ice Wine 


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Ice wine is very unusual, and few know how it’s made. It comes from grapes left on the vine until they freeze, concentrating their sugars and flavors.

The freezing of the grapes is left to occur naturally, and it isn’t forced at all. The natural freezing process preserves the sugars while freezing them artificially would mean sugar degradation and loss of flavor. 

The frozen grapes are pressed, and the juice is fermented into a sweet, rich wine. Ice wine is typically weaker in terms of alcohol content than fortified wines, which in no case makes it a mellow wine. With an alcohol content of about 14%-15%, it is definitely among the big boy. 

However, the expressive sweetness and richness make it a popular choice among wine lovers. You can get easily deceived by its flavor and easiness of drinking, but going too strong on this wine, doesn’t end up well. 

Moreover, ice wine is bright in appearance and combines flavor notes of honey, peach, and apricot. Ice wine is a typical summer wine and is best had as dessert wine or combined with fruity desserts or fresh fruit salads.

4. Pedro Ximenez (PX) Wine


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Pedro Ximenez (PX) is a sweet wine known as a dessert wine coming from the Montilla-Moriles region of Andalusia, Spain. It’s vibrant and full of spirit, considering it’s a Spanish wine, making it exciting and easy to drink. 

The Pedro Ximenez grapes I made from that have been sun-dried until they become raisins. The sun-drying process concentrates the sugars and flavors, giving the wine extraordinarily sweet and rich tasting notes.

This wine is famous for its expressive dried fruit flavors, with hints of caramel, toffee, and chocolate, making it taste slightly like whiskey. Therefore, if you like whiskey, you will probably like this wine.

It’s noticeably thicker than other wines and has a long and flavorful finish. It ages in oak barrels, where it gets its nutty note.

Whatever you do, don’t pair this wine with savories, as it’s a dessert wine combining best with chocolate and vanilla flavors, as well as fruit-based desserts and fruit salads.

5. Sauternes


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Coming from the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, France, this sweet wine bears the mark of French wines: elegance. This wine uses a very particular method of making, i.e., the grapes are infected with botrytis cinerea, also known as “noble rot.”

This fungus causes the grapes to shrivel, causing their flavors and sugars to concentrate.

Has a very complex and deep flavor that includes notes of honey, apricot, peach, and vanilla. It also has high acidity, balancing the flavors and refreshing and crisp the wine. Since it’s so fresh, this wine can quickly get you drunk, so pace yourself with it, as it isn’t a week one. 

This is mainly a dessert wine but also pairs well with blue cheese. 

6. Tokaji Aszú


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Coming from the Tokaj region of Hungary, this wine will definitely charm you with its liveliness. It’s made from Furmint, Hárslevelű, and Muscat grapes treated with botrytis cinerea or “the noble rot.”

The grapes are dried before they are fermented, which causes the sugar to intensify, thus increasing the alcohol percentage in the finished product.

The grapes are mixed with a base wine before fermentation, so it acquires hints of other wines, which makes it even more flavorful. The wine ages in oak barrels, becoming deep, complex, and nutty.

Tokaji Aszú tastes expressively like honey, apricot, and orange peel, with high acidity to balance everything out. It’s classified as a dessert wine but isn’t as restrictive as other wines from the dessert wine category. It’s open to experimentation, so you can try it with savories. 

7. Sherry


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Sherry is a fortified wine in various styles, from bone-dry to sweet. Here, we are talking about the sweet Sherry. This wine is made from the Palomino grape and is fortified with brandy to raise the alcohol content. 

Therefore, sweet Sherry is a pretty sweet solid wine, which isn’t to be messed with. However, since there is brandy in it, there will be a slight bite to warn you to take your time, which is good with this strong wine. 

Moreover, the aging process used for Sherry is the famous Solera system. For those who don’t know, the Solera system is a superb aging method in which young wines are mixed with older ones with the purpose of creating a consistent flavor. 

As a result, Sherry is a delicate and unique wine combining nutty and savory notes, which translate into expressively salty tones. The exceptionally versatile flavor profile makes this wine excellent for pairing sweet and savory dishes. 

8. Vin Santo


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Traditionally made in Tuscany, Vin Santo is a sweet Italian wine. This wine is made with dry grapes left in a ventilated closed space area for several months.

While most grapes used for wine dry in the open air, the Vin Santo grapes require closed spaces, which makes the making-process original and very particular. 

Vin Santo is known as a dessert wine, but don’t make the mistake of pairing it with any dessert. It has a complex flavor, outstanding richness, and expressive syrupy sweetness. The grape sugars are preserved and enhanced due to the drying process, which is why this wine is strong. 

Since it’s rich, almost creamy, and expressively sweet, Vin Santo works best with dry desserts like biscotti. Moreover, it’s used to dunk the sweets inside to soften them and give them an edge. 

Therefore, if you’re not a fan of milk, you can always have Vin Santo and cookies. 

9. Rutherglen Muscat


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This is a sweet Australian wine made from the Muscat grape. The flavor profile includes notes of caramel, toffee, and dried fruit, making this wine as fruity as it is sweet. This wine, too, ages using the Solera system, making it all the more versatile and vibrant. 

Best known as a dessert wine, it also pairs excellently with nuts and cheese, typical for wines made with the Solera system.

10. Late Harvest


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Late-harvest wines aren’t tied to a certain type of grapes, as they’re closely connected to the time they are harvested. Late-harvest wines are made worldwide; the only condition is for the grapes to be harvested later than their usual harvest time. 

This late harvest timing allows the sugar to concentrate, making the wine stronger and sweeter. Moreover, the grapes are affected by a fungus known as noble rot that causes the sugars to enhance further. 

This rich wine combines honey, apricot, and tropical fruit flavors.

As a rule, late-harvest wines are dessert wines and go excellent with cakes, cookies, fruit-based desserts, fruit salads, and fudgy desserts.

Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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