Valentine’s Day makes the tail end of winter a little bit sweeter, and the best wines for this time of year are the sweetest!
While sweetness is often associated with wine coolers and bottom-shelf bottles, this is hardly the case when it comes to world-class sweet wine. In fact, sweet wine can be high-quality and it can pair well with food — many times even more so than a buttery Chardonnay or super bold Cabernet Sauvignon. While great to drink on their own, those bigger wines can often overpower dishes, compared to light, floral, and fruity sweet wines that work well with a cheese board in the summer or a healthy springtime dish.
These wines tend to be lower in alcohol and are delicious when chilled. They work great with appetizers or over a relaxing lunch. Moscato d’Asti is even delicious during weekend brunch! So skip the mimosas next time you go out for pancakes and try one of these sweet wines instead …
Let’s get this out of the way — Riesling isn’t always sweet. This wine originated on the Rhine River in Germany, and producers can make dry, sweet, and even sparkling wines out of this delicious grape. Some wines will have more pear notes, while others will taste like apricots, but almost all bottles of this delicious wine will have a narrow and tall shape so you can recognize it instantly at the store. These wines are highly acidic and work well with spicy food, especially Asian dishes.
Try this: Chateau St. Michelle Riesling
Made primarily in northwest Italy, Moscato d’Asti is a very light, flavorful dessert wine. However, this delicious wine shouldn’t just be served with dessert. Its fruity flavor works especially well with fruit salads and vegetable platters, along with cheese boards and charcuterie. And if you’re driving after a get-together with friends no need to worry about enjoying a couple pours. By law, his wine can only have 5.5% ABV, which is incredibly low compared to other wines.
If you’re looking for a unique and rare bottle of dessert wine, consider ice wine which is made from grapes frozen on the vine. These bottles tend to be pricier due to the specific environmental conditions they require, but for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, it’s a good excuse to try something new. These wines are very high in sugar, have intense flavors of fruit and honey, and are often harvested by hand in the snow.
Try this: Inniskillin Vidal Pearl Ice Wine
If red wine is your favorite, add this sparkling red wine to your list of sweet wines to try in 2022. They are affordable compared to other quality red wines, work well at happy hour, and add something unexpected to the table. If a delicate flavor is what you seek, try Lambrusco di Sorbara which will appear lighter in color compared to others. Lambrusco Grasparossa is the boldest, while Lambrusco Salamino has the sweetest grapes. Try them all to find out what type of Lambrusco wine is your favorite.
Try this: Lambrusco dell’Emelia
PORT AND TAWNY PORT
Can we even write about sweet wine if we don’t include port and tawny port? Probably not. These wines are very sweet and very strong, and have a high alcohol content which is why they are traditionally poured in smaller glasses after dinner. This spirit is made in Portugal and is almost a cross between a wine and a liquor — guaranteed to keep you warm the rest of the winter season.Try this: Cockburn’s Vintage Port
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.