Is Pinot Noir Sweet? (Sweetness Chart)

    Is Pinot Noir Sweet

    There’s nothing like a glass of Pinot Noir, light and bright it brings a comforting caress like no other red wine.

    Pinot Noir is native to the Burgundy region of France, which is where it is grown to huge success.

    Prized Burgundies made from Pinot Noir sell for thousands of pounds / dollars. 

    But does Pinot Noir’s success in Burgundy make it a dry or a sweet wine?

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    Is Pinot Noir a Dry or Sweet Wine?

    Pinot Noir Profile

    Perhaps best known for its role in red Burgundies, Pinot Noir traditionally makes bone-dry, light red wines.

    However, as with other typically dry wines like Merlot, just because Pinot Noir is commonly a bone-dry wine, doesn't mean it’s always a dry wine.

    In fact, you may be surprised to find out that Pinot Noir can make some really delicious, opulent dessert wines. 

    These styles are extremely rare though and chances are most Pinot Noirs that you will come across will be dry. 

    Sweetness Level Pinot Noir Examples
    Bone Dry Traditional red Burgundies
    Dry Most Pinot Noir wines
    Sweet (Rare) Dessert wines made from late-ripened Pinot Noir
    Very Sweet (Rare) N/A

    So if Pinot Noir is known for being so dry, how can the same grape make something so sweet as well?

    How can one grape be both?

    Why Is Pinot Noir Sweet?  

    Pinot Noir Production

    Sweet Pinot Noir is so rare, what makes Pinot Noir sweet, is a very good question to ask.

    Typically, Pinot Noir makes light and ruby-bright dry red wines, and we simply can’t get enough. 

    You see, once the yeast has fermented all the sugar in Pinot Noir and converted it into alcohol there is no residual sugar left, leaving only a dry taste and those mouthwatering tasting notes of raspberry, cherry and plum.

    So in order to make a Pinot Noir sweet, some dessert winemaking practices need to be applied to the Pinot Noir grapes.

    Sweet Pinot Noir doesn’t happen by accident!

    Related: Should Pinot Noir Wine Be Chilled

    There are lots of different ways to make dessert wines, and they’ll vary from maker to maker. 

    But some methods involve leaving Pinot Noir grapes on the vine for longer periods of time so that they become really ripe.

    This is the most common way to make sweet examples of Pinot Noir.

    Sweetness aside, what does Pinot Noir taste like?

    Sweetness of Pinot Noir Compared to Other Red Wines

    Pinot Noir Varieties

    Here's a brief comparison of popular red wine varieties and where Pinot Noir sits within them:

    • Very Dry - Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, Chianti, Cab Sauv, Zinfandel
    • Dry - Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Garnacha
    • Off Dry / Semi Sweet - Lambrusco Dolce, Sherry, Madeira
    • Sweet - Port, Tawny Port, Van Santo Rosso

    What Does Pinot Noir Taste Like?

    Pinot Noir Tasting Notes

    It’s easy to take a sip of PInot Noir and simply exclaim: delicious! But what are the typical tasting notes of Pinot Noir?

    Pinot Noir, especially when grown in its native Burgundy, makes sophisticated, well structured and mouthwateringly dry red wines with lots of complexity.

    They tent to pour a very light red, but this lightness in colour doesn’t mean a lightness in flavour.

    Typical Pinot Noir tasting notes include:

    • Cherries
    • Plums
    • Vegetable flavours such as mushrooms

    Think spoonfuls of cherry garcia ice cream, stewing red plums in preparation for a crumble, big slices of black forest gateau for dessert and a forest just after it has rained. 

    To ensure you’re getting the best out of your Pinot Noir, and for more tips on storing and serving your wine, click here.

    Pinot Noir Wine Characteristics

    Now we’ve got a grasp on sweetness, what other characteristics can you expect to find in a glass of Pinot Noir?

    • Alcohol Levels - Typically Pinot Noir wines tend to have moderate alcohol levels, between 11.5-13.5% ABV.
    • Sweetness Level - Pinot Noir normally makes bone-dry red wines, although there are some dessert wine styles of the grape to be found.
    • Acidity Level - Pinot Noir has a medium-high acidity, giving wines made from this grape a lot of aging potential.
    • Tannin Level - Pinot Noirs, when made well, have silky smooth mouthfeel with low levels of tannins.
    • Body - Medium body tends to be the norm for Pinot Noir, allowing the red fruit and soft spices of the grape to really shine through.

    So what are the sweet types of Pinot Noir and where can you find them?

    Related: How Long Does Pinot Noir Last?

    Sweet Types of Pinot Noir Wine

    Sweet types of Pinot Noir aren’t an everyday occurrence, so if you're really hankering for a glass it may be best to ask your local wine seller for their assistance.

    Sweet types of Pinot Noir wine can include dessert wines made using late-ripened Pinot Noir.

    These sweeter styles of Pinot Noir tend to come in small, half-bottles so you should be able to spot them with ease. 

    But how does Pinot Noir compare to other wines?

    Is Pinot Noir sweeter than Merlot, for example?

    Is Pinot Noir Sweeter Than Merlot?

    Pinot Noir Vs Merlot

    Both Pinot Noir and Merlot tend to make very dry red wines, so they would probably be the same level of sweetness. 

    Read more about Pinot Noir Vs Merlot here.

    What about Meiomi Pinot Noir?

    Would Pinot Noir from Meiomi be a dry or sweet wine?

    Is Meiomi Pinot Noir Sweet?

    Perhaps one of the best selling Californian Pinot Noirs on the market, Meiomi makes a Pinot Noir with lots of deep fruit and sophisticated spice.

    Pinot Noir from Meiomi tends to be dry, just as other examples of Pinot Noir from other wine making countries.

    Before You Go... 

    Wine Barrels

    We hope this article answers any questions you may have on Is Pinot Noir Sweet?

    If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at

    You can browse more posts on Wine Types here

    Read our other Pinot Noir guides here:

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    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin

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