The Best Sweet Red Wines

    In my home, the bar cart dawns some classics wines, Josh and Barefoot, red and white, sweet and bitter…but which are the best? Here are VUE’s top 15 Best Sweet Red Wines that I myself will definitely be trying soon and adding to the collection!

Recioto della Valpolicella

    Recioto della Valpolicella, the sweeter version of the favored Amarone, comes from northeastern Italy. Made from several types of fermented grapes, this rich wine tastes quite different from others from the same region. With notes of fruits like strawberries, blueberries and cherries, this wine pairs best with fruits but specifically those sweet strawberries. During the process, the grapes are dried, pressed and fermented, making for a more powerful taste.

Top picks:

  1. Giuseppe Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico DOCG – $195
  2. Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore Vigneto di Monte Lodoletta – $119.94
  3. Bertani Recioto Della Valpolicella Valpantena – $70.93


    This famous dessert wine is not incredibly sweet, but the perfect pairing with after-dinner fruits, nuts and chocolate. With charcuterie boards becoming party staples, Banyuls is the wine to choose. With this French wine, the fermentation is temporarily stopped in order to retain sugar. It is made from aged vines in the village of Roussillon, in which the exposure to the elements allow for a blackberry and woody taste. 

Top picks:

  1. Banyuls Grand Cru 1956 Cuvee President Henry Vidal – $505.83
  2. Cave L’Etoile Banyuls Grand Cru 2004 – $27.99
  3. Domaine Vial-Magneres Banyuls Al Targou Rancio Tres Vieux – $80

Black Muscat

    Black Muscat, aside from being a very sweet red wine, also serves as a favorable table grape. Originating in England, this wine also goes by the name of Muscat of Hamburg. However, the grapes are grown all over the world and the wine is popular across the globe. It is a light wine that contains notes of apricot and citruses, specifically bergamot. The aftertaste is quite rosy and pairs best with dark chocolate, tarte fruits and creamy desserts like ice cream or cheesecake.  

Top picks:

  1. Quady Elysium 2021 – $29.99
  2. Ferrari-Carano Eldorado Noir Russian River Valley – $31.99
  3. Baron Herzog Black Muscat Jeunesse – $12.99


    The very sweet Brachetto, similar to a lot of wines on this list, comes from an Italian sweet grape variety. It is aged for a few months before being sold, allowing the deep ruby color and tastes to really sink in. With a high aromaticity of berries like strawberries and blackberries as well as rose petals, this wine is often popular around Valentine’s Day. Cleopatra was given this wine by her suitors Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar, so if that doesn’t make you want to try it, then maybe its pairings will—cheese and fruits are a hit, but this also pairs well with creamy chocolates like mousse or pudding.

Top picks:

  1. Bartenura – $29.99
  2. Col dei Venti – $29.99
  3. Bartenura Brachetto Sweet Red – $19.92

Cabernet Franc

    Cabernet Franc, originated from France but now grown in Italy and the United States, contains flavors of raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers and chilies. Grown in warmer climates like California and Friuli, this wine can interestingly have after notes of gravel or lead on top of those fruity notes. It is extremely common but pairs best with more savory foods like beef, turkey, lamb and duck.

Top picks:

  1. El Enemigo (Aleanna), Gran Enemigo Gualtallary Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc – $1,550
  2. Trapiche Iscay Malbec & Cabernet Franc – $99.99
  3. 2020 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc – $22.98

Cabernet Sauvignon

    Although this wine sounds similar to Franc, the two are completely different. Cabernet Sauvignon is a lot more fruity with notes of black cherry and black currant. Cedar and spices also come through, giving this wine a bold taste. It is a dry, France based wine that although is not the same as Cabernet Franc, still has that small taste of lead. However, anise and tobacco also touch the taste buds. Savory foods are best to pair with this, like steak and lamb, but can also taste great with cheese, mushrooms or tofu. 

Top picks:

  1. 2002 Silver Oak Cabernet Napa – $2,850
  2. 1985 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection Napa Valley – $3,500
  3. 2018 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – $505.05

Feel like splurging? Scarecrow Cabernet 2019 3 Liter – $11,995


    The first German wine on this list, Dornfelder is a semi-sweet wine made from a mix of Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe grapes in order to fit the country’s climate. The dark skinned grapes create tastes of boysenberry, cherry, plum and spices like nutmeg and vanilla. It gives off a fruity scent and is oak-matured. Pair this special wine with meats or use it with dessert foods like pancakes and pear dishes.

Top picks:

  1. 2003 Weingut Binz Dornfelder Nackenheimer Barrique Trocken – $24.99
  2. Burklin-Wolf Estate Rouge 2018 – $18.99
  3. 2019 Kallstadt Kallstadter Kobnert Dornfelder – $14.99


    Garnache is one of the most pricey yet mouthwatering wines on this list. Originating in
northern Spain, the wine has fruity tastes of raspberries, strawberries and black cherries, with subtle notes of cinnamon and citrus. With a lighter color than usual, this wine is super unique yet full of a range of tastes. Pair this wine with spicy meats, exotic spices or vegetables.

Top picks:

  1. Alto Moncayo Aquilon 2017 – $179.99
  2. Bodegas Alto Moncayo Aquilon Garnacha 2017 – $190
  3. Cuentavinas CDVIN Garnacha Rioja 2020 – $79.99

Ice Wine

    Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are popular varieties of ice wine, a sweet wine that can only be made from—you guessed it—icy grapes. When grapes freeze in their vineyard, these extremely sweet flavors of apricot, lychee, lemon curd, honeysuckle and pineapple pop out. Canada, Germany and interestingly enough, New York, are the highest manufacturers of such wine. Pair with fruity desserts or even cheese to gain the full sweet experience that is ice wine.

Top picks:

  1. Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Eiswein GK 1996 – $3,999
  2. 2021 Emrich-Schonleber Monzinger Fruhlingsplatzchen Riesling Eiswein Nahe – $263
  3. Emrich-Schonleber, Monzinger Fruhlingsplatzchen Riesling Eiswein, Nahe – $2,894


    Lambrusco wine comes in different varieties, the sweetest versions typically being very cheap. Emilia-Romagna, a region in northern Italy, is the origin of this fruity wine. With tastes of violets, rhubarb, cream, cherries and blackberries, this wine is delicious and actually quite fizzy. Readers may remember a commercial back in the 80s that advertised “Riunite,” a type of Lambrusco, which limited viewers knowledge on the type. Pair it with meats like sausage and ham but definitely pork, or cheeses like parmesan or pecorino romano. For sweeter lambruscos, try it with fruits like peaches or mangoes.

Top picks:

  1. Bugno Martino – Essentia Lambrusco Mantovano 2020 – $31.99
  2. Cantina Paltrinieri Radice Lambrusco di Sorbara 2022 – $24.99
  3. 2022 Ottaviano Lambruschi Colli Di Luni Vermentino Costa Marina – $41


    Originating in France but now grown primarily in Argentina, Malbec is a sweet dry wine with flavors of vanilla, tobacco, red plums, blackberries and cocoa. It has a very rich flavor that pairs great with meats and cheeses, but especially blue cheese, as it brings out the fruitiness the best. Vegetables like eggplant and squash also pair well with Malbec, and you can even try it with rosemary or sage.

Top picks:

  1. Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae Malbec 2020 – $339.99
  2. Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Malbec 2020 – $189.99
  3. 2005 Catena Zapata Adrianna Malbec Mendoza – $337

Ruby port

    Although this wine is known to be a bit spicy, it is super sweet and is most popularly paired with rich, chocolatey desserts. Similar to Malbec, ruby port also pairs spectacularly with blue cheese, as the sweet and savory combine for an explosion of flavor. Made in Portugal, this wine is extremely fruity with tastes of dates, plums, blackberries and red berries. The spices that earn this wine its interesting taste include black pepper and chestnuts.

Top picks:

  1. Amandio Silva & Filhos 1900 Fine Reserve Port – $2,099
  2. 1890 Burmester & Co J.W. Port LBV, Novidade, Aloirado Doce – $1,899
  3. Redbreast 27 Yr – $1,099

Brachetto d’Acqui

    This wine comes in three different types, all ranging in their sweetness. Made only in Piedmont, Italy, Brachetto d’Acqui comes as Brachetto d’Acqui Rosso, Brachetto d’Acqui Spumante or Brachetto d’Acqui Passito. All three have notes of raspberries, roses, strawberries, cherries and violets.  Brachetto d’Acqui Rosso is a little less sweet than its counter wines, Brachetto d’Acqui Spumante is especially sparkly and Brachetto d’Acqui Passito is the richest and sweetest.

Top picks:

  1. Braida – Brachetto d’Acqui 2022 – $23.19
  2. Rinaldi Brachetto d’Acqui 2020 – $25
  3. Castello Banfi – Rosa Regale Brachetto D’ Acqui 2021 – $24.99


    Tempranillo, originating from Spain, is the country’s top wine. With flavors of tobacco, cedar, cherry, fig and dill, this dry, sweet wine gets its taste from grapes that ripe a little earlier than the rest. The grapes also age for a long time in oak. These means they can come in a range of colors, most popular in ruby and a deep garnet. Pair with pasta or tomatoes, as well as meat like lamb or steak.

Top picks:

  1. 2020, Cayuse, En Chamberlin Tempranillo Impulsivo – $970
  2. Timo Mayer Tempranillo 2021 – $78.65
  3. Booker Tempranillo 2017 – $80


    A very fruity wine with flavors of peaches, cinnamon, strawberries, blackberries and tobacco, Zinfandel is a super versatile wine to pair with meats, cheeses, spices or vegetables. Originating from Croatia, zinfandel is very popular and even made into a sweet white rosė, named accordingly as White Zinfandel. Pair with barbecued meats like bacon or salmon, cheeses like gouda or cheddar, vegetables like olives or red peppers, and spices and herbs like cumin or fennel. 

Top picks:

  1. Green & Red – Chiles Mill Vineyard Zinfandel NV – $48.99
  2. Green & Red Tip Top Vineyard Zinfandel 2017 – $38.99
  3. Fitvine Red Zinfandel 2018 – $17.41

    With so many good options, it is hard to choose just one. Thankfully, as they say, happy hour occurs everyday that ends with a ‘y.’ Personally, I’ll be picking up some Garnache first, hopefully with some amazing Italian sausage. If this makes you want to try some of these best sweet red wines with amazing food, check out The 5 Best Seafood Restaurants in NJ or A Taste of Italy at Blu Grotto Ristorante!