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Off-dry and sweet wines can be hard to define. But off-dry wines typically have as little as 9 grams of sugar per liter (g/L) whereas fully sweet wines can have over 120g/L. Given their sweet nature, these wines are commonly only associated with dessert—but they are so much more. For instance, they make the perfect drink on a hot summer day.
To start, wines with residual sugar often have lower alcohol because, during fermentation, yeast doesn’t convert as much of the grape’s sugar to alcohol, making these bottles the perfect oceanside sippers. For an even lighter afternoon sip, use sweeter wines in spritzes to cut the alcohol even further—be sure to add frozen berries as ice cubes as an extra refreshing ingredient.
Along with being excellent poolside drinks, these bottles go great with a wide array of foods such as sushi and salad. They also complement acidic and smokey dishes, such as Carolina and Texas barbeque. Not to mention spicy dishes are famously balanced by sweet or off-dry wines as the residual sugar acts as a foil to the dish’s heat.
To help you find your next bottle we pulled together a list of our favorite off-dry and sweet wines.
Bella Grace 2021 Orange Muscat (Amador County); $26. Find at Wine-Searcher. This lightly sweet and light-bodied wine offers charming honeysuckle and ripe peach aromas… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Bella Ridge 2014 Demi Sec Chenin Blanc (Swan Valley); $25. Find at Wine-Searcher. Bella Ridge’s minimal style of Chenin, released after many years in bottle, isn’t a typical expression… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Domaine Charles Baur 2019 Gewurztraminer (Alsace); $29. Find at Wine-Searcher. Pineapple, lychee and dill aromas float sweetly out of the glass. On first sip, this wine has just… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Glenora 2019 Reserve Semi-Dry Riesling (Seneca Lake); $19. Find at Wine-Searcher. There’s depth in spades in this semidry Riesling, showing ripe lemon, apple and peach against… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Long Shadows 2020 Poet’s Leap Riesling (Columbia Valley (WA)); $20. Buy at Vivino. This shows intense detail and complexity in the aromas of lime zest, wet slate, white peach… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Marenco 2020 Strevi (Moscato d’Asti); $16. Find at Wine-Searcher. This savory, lightly sparkling dessert wine has intense aromas of ripe yellow peach, sage… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Pindar Vineyards 2020 Estate Bottled Riesling (North Fork of Long Island); $22. Buy at Vivino. Pristine aromas of candied mango, orange oil and dried hay are shot through with lots of lemony… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW
Prost 2020 Riesling (Rheinhessen); $14. Find at Wine.com. Crisp Asian-pear and yellow-apple flavors abound in this bright-fruited Riesling. There’s… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW