There’s nothing quite like a delicious, sweet red wine, especially when paired with chocolate desserts or a deeply savory roast beef. However, sweetness doesn’t necessarily correspond with one varietal of red; there are sweet red zinfandels, cabernet sauvignons, pinot noirs, and more.
Wine tends to be sweet less because of the type of grape and more due to how long it sat on the vine. The more time it has before harvest, the more natural sugars it develops, yielding a sweeter wine.
The selection can be overwhelming if you’ve ever walked into the wine section at a liquor store (or even a grocery store) unless you know what you’re doing. That’s why the list below comes in so handy.
We’ve sipped our way through hundreds of bottles of sweet reds to find the best available at a range of price points. To help you choose the best sweet red wines for you, we’ve also discussed what pairs well with them.
Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto
Banfi is a relatively old name in the world of American wine and wine imports.
Even as they’ve become more commercial in recent years, their Rosa Regale Brachetto is one of the best sweet red wines available.
With notes of sweet berries like raspberries and strawberries, this sparkling wine works as an aperitif or after-dinner drink. It has none of the tartness or over-fermented flavors of other sweet reds.
It pairs exceptionally well with decadent desserts and dark chocolate, though it can also provide a lovely balance to an oily fish. Always serve chilled and keep on ice.
Braida Brachetto d’Acqui 2019
Another sparkling Italian wine, the Braid Brachetto a’Acqui 2019, has a gorgeous light red color with purple notes.
It can even visually add to the dessert table or a brunch buffet line. It has an aromatic bouquet with notes of rose and berries that opens up over the course of drinking the bottle.
For tasting notes, many drinkers detect the berries they get on the nose. You’ll likely taste strawberries, cranberries, and cherries.
There is a bit of a tartness in addition that some have described as similar to crabapples.
This wine pairs beautifully with desserts, especially chocolate. In addition, it tastes delectable with nuts and dried fruits.
Dal Forno Romano Vigna Seré Veneto Passito Rosso
This highly-rated wine is undoubtedly sweet but has more oakiness and depth than many others on this list.
Still, sommeliers and wine experts consider it a dessert wine with strong aromatic and taste notes of black fruits, including blackberries and cherries.
In addition, tasters pick up earthy tones such as leather and even honey, as well as rich, dark chocolate and even tobacco. You can even pick up some hints of vanilla on the nose.
If you’re drinking this wine, consider pairing it with rich cheeses, chocolate, or even to accompany a nice after-dinner cigar.
Giuseppe Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 2004
This delicious red Italian blend combines grapes from Cabernet Sauvignon, Corvina, Rondinella, and more.
The vintners lovingly dried and then slowly fermented the grapes as much as possible to yield an impossibly sweet yet rich wine.
Many wine connoisseurs prefer to drink this wine around the holidays since the baking spice notes and caramel are so pronounced.
It pairs beautifully with desserts like gingerbread or panettone. It also tastes delicious with cheese.
The nose is heavier on spice than sweet, but the wine itself has flavors of raspberries, blackberries, and rich caramel. The flavor profile isn’t too sweet, which lends itself to pairing with sugary treats.
Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port
The phrase “old tawny port” may call to mind specific ideas about this wine’s flavor, and they probably aren’t entirely wrong.
As the name implies, this is a classic port wine with deep flavors and a rich sweetness.
On the nose, you’ll detect some notes of tobacco and smoke, as well as chocolate and burned fruit.
When you sip it, most sommeliers taste cooked fruits, including pineapples and peaches, which both become very sugary when heated. In addition, sweeter dried fruits like apricots are also detectable in the flavor.
As a port, this wine is best drunk as an evening, after-dinner beverage. You can munch on cheese and crackers, dark chocolate, or nuts with it.
Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz
In the past, you may have heard wine described as “jammy.” These wines remind the drinker of sweetened, preserved fruit–one of the sweetest natural dishes you can make.
However, this South African wine is lighter, with more fresh fruit flavors than processed ones.
When you smell and taste this wine, you’ll detect a lot of fruit. Ripe blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries permeate both, as does dark, earthy chocolate.
Because it’s a Shiraz, it works as a dinner wine, as long as your main course can stand up to the sweetness. Pair with a mojo sauce or even a curry with a lot of cinnamon.
Philip Togni Ca’ Togni Sweet Red
This Napa Valley sweet red wine is more flowery than fruity.
It has notes of chamomile, bergamot, and other flowers, along with mint and sweet spices like cinnamon and even anise.
When you taste it, you’ll detect deep black cherries and some earthy honey, which is the source of a lot of the sweetness.
Because it’s sweet, you can drink it as a dessert wine, but it also works with specific main courses.
Try pairing it with a lightly flavored roast chicken or oily fish. Because it has notes of mint, it also makes an interesting accompaniment to lamb with mint jelly at Easter.
San Antonio Cardinale Red Blend
This affordable red wine is both sweet and refreshing.
If you love a naturally sweet sangria, consider making it with this wine. It’s a blend that’s easy to drink and goes with almost anything.
When drunk by itself, the San Antonio Cardinale has a jammy, light flavor and nose to match.
The fruitiness lacks any of the smoke or caramel of heavier sweet wines, but also the sugar that would make it too filling.
This wine is terrific for parties, as it goes with pasta, chicken, veggies, sweets, and even red meat.
It’s widely available at liquor stores and grocery stores. You can bring it as a hostess gift or keep it on hand for when friends drop by.
Tobin James Zinfandel Late Harvest
This wine derives its sweetness from the fact that the Zinfandel grapes were left on the vine much longer than usual, allowing them to ripen and develop lots of natural sugars.
It’s a dessert wine with some of the most common tasting notes, including chocolate.
In addition to chocolate, you may taste plums, blueberries, and other blue and purple fruits on the nose. Some people also catch slight hints of oakiness or even smokiness.
Zinfandel makes a terrific Thanksgiving wine, so choose this version with pumpkin pie or apple crisp. It also works well with sweet potatoes, yams, and other savory fall flavors.
Domaine Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon Sparkling Rose
This sparkling rose is light and fruity, ideal for a bridal shower, brunch, or afternoon spent poolside.
It’s an easy crowd-pleaser with a stunning pink color. The grapes used to make this unique French wine are hand-picked and then cold-pressed through the fermentation process, which continues in the bottle.
This sweet wine’s flavor profile contains notes of light red fruits like strawberries and raspberries, along with lighter fruits like apples and melons.
It pairs well with a variety of foods, although you may want to avoid anything especially rich since it will overpower the wine. Enjoy it with savory crepes, chocolate chip waffles, or eggs benedict.
Lini 910 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso
This untraditional sweet Italian wine is a bit on the tangy side, with hints of herbs, earth minerals, and spices.
It also contains scents and flavors of dark red fruits and berries. See if you taste blackberries, cherries, or raspberries in this red blend from the Lambrusco region.
The depth and uniqueness of this wine make it appropriate and interesting to taste with various cuisines.
Try it with a salty fish, acidic chicken dish, or even braised beef with tomatoes.
You’ll find that the different dishes bring out other aspects of the wine’s flavor. It’s also good with barbecue.
As you can see, sweet red wines aren’t just for enjoying with dessert. There are many courses and even more dishes that pair beautifully with sweet red wines. If you enjoy tasting sweet red wine, there is a wide range of flavor profiles, types of grapes, regions of origin, and more.
According to expert sommeliers and wine consumers, the eleven wines on this list are some of the best sweet reds available.
Many of them are widely available at local liquor stores and come at various price points. Whether you enjoy sweet red wine regularly or as a special treat, find your favorite on this list.
If you want to enjoy wine without the buzz, check out our favorite non-alcoholic wines!