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    Semi Sweet White Wines (What Is The Sweetest & 9 Varieties)

    Semi Sweet White Wines

    When dry white wines seem to be all the rage, what about those of us who prefer a glass of something slightly sweeter?

    What wines should you look out for when your sweet tooth is craving a glass of wine?

    Let’s take a look at some of the most common styles of semi-sweet wine that you’re likely to come across:

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    9 Popular Semi White Wine Styles

    1. Riesling

    Riesling Wines

    Often referred to as the darling of the wine world, Riesling produces some deliciously complex sweet wines with lots of perfumed notes of honeysuckle, lime zest and white peaches.

    2. Moscato

    Moscato Wines

    Low in alcohol but big on flavour, Moscato is soft and sweet with notes of aromatic orange blossom, honeydew melon and ripe apricots. 

    3. Gewürztraminer

    So aromatic you could wear it as a perfume, Gewürztraminer oozes of bouquets of roses, juicy lychees and crystallised ginger. 

    4. Chenin Blanc

    Chenin Blanc

    Often dry, but capable of producing some really decadent semi-sweet wines, Chenin Blanc is known for its tasting notes of crisp pear and blossom infused honey. 

    5. Viognier

    Another one for those who enjoy their wines on the aromatic side, Viognier is often higher in alcohol with semi-sweet tasting notes of ripe stone fruit and beautiful spring blossom. 

    6. Sauternes


    Sweet wines don’t get more luxurious than this. Made from grapes that have undergone botrytis, Sauternes tastes of thick butterscotch, zesty lemon meringue pie and mango curd. 

    7. Late Harvest Wines

    When grapes are harvested later than usual it allows the grapes to reach maximum ripeness. All of those extra sugars produce really delicious semi-sweet wines with lots of ripe fruit flavours. 

    8. Tokaji

    A Hungarian dessert wine with a reputation for being succulently sweet with a beautiful citrus acidity to balance the sugar out. Perfect with a cheese course. 

    9. Ice Wine

    A unique wine in that the grapes are left to freeze on the vine, concentrating their sugars in the process.

    The result?

    An intensely sweet wine with lots of candied citrus and sugared passion fruit flavours.

    So those are general styles of semi-sweet wine, but what about specific bottles? What labels should you be looking for if you’re in the market for a semi-sweet wine?

    10 Semi Sweet White Wine Bottles

    1. Riesling Spätlese

    Riesling Spatlese

    If you like the sound of a semi-sweet Riesling then you need to get to grips with the labelling terms.

    Riesling is labelled in terms of sweetness levels, so keep an eye out for any bottle with Spätlese for a semi-sweet, late harvest example of Riesling. 

    2. Moscato d'Asti


    This sparkling wine froths and foams like a particularly good bubble bath, and is softly sweet to match.

    3. Gewürztraminer Vendange Tardive

    In French, Vendange Tardive means late harvest and is a guaranteed indicator that the contents of the bottle have some tangible residual sugar to them. 

    4. Chenin Blanc Demi-Sec

    Translating to half-dry, demi-sec is another labelling term that means the wine is semi-sweet so is a useful term to look out for during your next wine shop. 

    5. Viognier Doux

    Viognier Doux

    In Champagne, Doux means sweet and the same can be applied to this Viognier. Doux is a sure-fire sign that you’re about to buy a sweet version of a wine style or grape, so add this to your semi-sweet repertoire. 

    6. Sauternes

    A wine so infamous as a dessert wine that it needs no other labelling terms. Sauternes specialises in sweet wines, so there’s no chance of buying a bottle and being disappointed by a dry wine.

    7. Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc

    Any grape can be late harvested if that's what the maker decides, and late harvest on the bottle is an indicator that sugar levels in the wine have been actively encouraged in the winemaking process. 

    8. Tokaji Aszú

    Tokaji Wines

    Aszú is the Hungarian term for botrytis, which is the same noble rot that makes Sauternes so sweet.

    Essentially it’s another indicator on the label that you’re in for a deliciously sweet time. 

    9. Ice Wine

    Ice wine has such a solid reputation for making sweet wines that only those two words need to be on the label for an informed consumer to know it means a deliciously sweet wine. 

    10. Semi-Sweet Vouvray

    Vouvray is a white wine made from Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley of France.

    This wine comes in a whole range of sweetness levels so keep an eye out for labels with Semi-Sweet on the bottle. 

    So now you have everything you need to pick out your semi-sweet wine bottle, what about food pairings? What dishes go well with semi-sweet wine?

    Best Food Pairings For Semi Sweet White Wines 

    Semi Sweet White Wines Food Pairings

    With their delicious notes of residual sugar, semi-sweet wines are fantastic wine pairings for lots of food.

    Why not try some sweet wines with your next cheese course as a change from the dry reds that are the normal wine pairing here?

    Other alternatives include:

    • Chicken liver parfaits
    • Big summer salads with lots of fruit
    • Spicy Thai dishes
    • And let's not forget dessert

    Try any of these wines with your dessert course of choice for a deliciously sweet time. 

    But are there any other styles of semi-sweet wine we have missed?

    Other Sweet White Wine Styles

    If you’ve got a taste for semi-sweet wines but have tried all of the examples above try and keep an eye out for some of the following:

    • Different styles of Moscato wines or those made with grapes from the Muscat family 
    • German wines with Auslese on the label
    • French wines labelled with Demi-Sec or Doux, as these are indicators of noticeable residual sugar in the glass

    But how much sugar is in semi-sweet wines? 

    Is Semi Sweet White Wine High In Sugar? 

    Yes, all of those lovely sweet flavours and aromas are an indicator that the wines have more sugar than a drier style of wine such as Pinot Grigio. 

    Sugar levels are going to vary quite drastically across bottles, so if sugar intake is something you’re concerned about it’s best to talk to the person selling you the wine, or check the label, to find out exactly how much sugar is going to be in your glass.

    Before You Go... 

    Wine Barrels

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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