|1. Doyard||2. Michele Chiarlo||3. Inniskillin|
While there are all kinds of occasions where a sweet sparkling wine fits the bill, you really do not need an excuse to crack open a bottle of this lush, sweet, cheerful fizz. We love all bubbles, especially the sweet ones so we have curated a list of some of the best sweet sparkling wines below for you to pick and chose from.
Top 4 Best Sweet Sparkling Wine 2021
1. Champagne Doux
The sweetest of the sweetest bubblies, Champagne Doux contains a minimum of 50 grams of residual sugar per liter of wine. When making Champagne, one of the final steps is the above-mentioned addition of the liqueur d’expedition or dosage after disgorgement. The final profile of the Champagne depends on the sweetness level of this blend of wine and sugar. In the case of a Champagne Doux, the dosage is very sweet. The ideal accompaniment for Champagne Doux is a slice of gâteau.
Made with the traditional method (of course!) Sweet Champagnes are becoming increasingly hard to come by as contemporary consumer tastes veer towards dry styles and producers respond accordingly.
Doyard La Libertine Doux Champagne is a lovely sweet Champagne leading with orchard and stone fruit all embraced by toasty biscuit and almond. Layers of citrus and cream feature in a satisfyingly chalky, slightly saline rounded mouth which closes with a fresh finish. It is literally a sweetie: it boasts 65 grams of sugar per liter!
The Doyard House knows what it is doing. It has been producing France’s famous bubbly for twelve generations. Its Doux Champagne is a blend of four to five vintages and ages for more than 12 years.
You can pair this sweet, bubbly lovely with chocolate mousse, fruit gâteaux, and pavlova. It also pairs very well with savory food like pork dishes, salmon and tuna, shellfish, and mild and soft cheese.
2. Moscato d’Asti
Everyone who loves a bit of light fizz loves Moscato d’Asti. Hailing from the town of Montferrat in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, this DOCG status frizzante is made from the ancient fragrant musky-scented Moscato bianco grape which makes low alcohol wines in a range of styles. In long-gone days, Moscato d’Asti was made by winemakers as a lightly alcoholic drink for lunchtime refreshment – hence the low alcohol!
One of the best features of Moscato d’Asti is its bouquet. Perfumed with mandarin orange, lemon, pear, and florals like honeysuckle and orange blossom, its gently heady scent expands on a sweet palate balanced by ripples of acidity. The bubbles are light and the finish clean and full of light minerality.
Moscato d’Asti pairs perfectly with Chinese food and blue cheese not to mention light fruity desserts. Failing that, serve it in the traditional way with Italian orange-almond cookies called Cantucci. Do not just nibble the biscuit in between sips – dip it in the bubbly!
A lovely Moscato made in the frizzante style is Michele Chiarlo Nivole Grappa di Moscato d’Asti. On the eye, it is a brilliant yellow straw hue with peach and apricots on the nose. The palate is aromatic and creamy, the bubbles are beautifully fine, and the finish is fresh and lifted. Serve at 10°C.
As its name suggests, this frizzante wine is made with the Asti method.
Ice wine is one of the world’s sweetest wines gracing many a dessert course. It is also on the expensive side owing to its painstaking production method that concentrates sugars for the unique character of this wine. Grapes are hand-harvested at about minus 10°C when they are frozen then immediately pressed. This enables the frozen water in the grapes surfaces to rise to the top of the vat and can be easily removed. What remains is a highly concentrated, fruity juice full of flavor. A bottle of Ice Wine needs four to five times the amount of gapes of a regular still wine.
Cool climate grapes naturally do well in the spots where Ice Wine is made. These include Canada, Germany, Austria, China, and the US. Ice wine varietals include Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Grüner Veltliner, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Vidal Blanc.
Ice Wine is intensely sweet but has a bright acidity that balances this to perfection. White varietal ice wine displays citrus, stone fruit, honey, and tropical fruits like mango. Red Ice Wine has strawberry notes with a touch of spice. The mouth of both is silky and smooth. Ice Wine is a great match for sweet and savory food. On the dessert front, cheesecake, coconut ice cream, and white chocolate mousse go down like a dream with ice wine. If savory is more your thing, blue cheese is just divine.
This all sounds pretty delicious, right? Now imagine adding bubbles to this sumptuous sweet wine. This is just what leading Canadian ice wine producer Inniskillin has done with its Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine.
After harvest and pressing, grapes undergo the Charmat method of bubbly production until the wine reaches an ABV of 9.5%. This sparkling ice wine displays signature aromas of peach, orange, and honey with a palate of citrus, lychee, pineapple, and mango. This lovely sweet bomb is tempered by crisp acidity and a lively mousse.
More than worthy of a place on our best sweet sparkling wines list, the bubbles in this Inniskillin wine result in a wider range of food pairing options. It goes with oysters and spicy dishes along with rich creamy cheeses. Sweets it matches like a hand in glove include fresh fruit and crème brûlée.
The Brachetto grape has been around for a long time. There is evidence that it existed in ancient Roman times and legend says it was the favorite wine of Cleopatra.
This famous and much-loved sweet sparkling wine is a frizzante (semi-sparkling) wine with a pretty, floral nose and a fruity strawberry, blackcurrant palate brushed with orange zest and apricot. It has a creamy mouth and a delicate mousse which give it a friendly welcoming feel. Light bodied with gentle acidity, this fizz is also low in alcohol (less than 10% ABV) making it a good wine for family get-togethers, social occasions, and as a pick-me-up on a summer’s evening. In terms of pairing, it loves dessert-like creamy chocolate mousse, fruit tarts, and strawberry ice cream.
We think this all more than qualifies these northwest Italian Piedmont bubbles for a place in our best sweet sparkling wine list.
If you want to try this Italian frizzante, Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui is an ideal choice. To the eye, it is a gentle ruby red and, on the nose, it displays refined aromas of rose petals and raspberry. A soft aromatic palate expresses red fruit and a touch of cream all seamlessly woven together with a fine mousse and a silky mouth.
Grapes get gentle treatment through hand picking. The 100% Brachetto grapes for this wine are macerated on their skins for three to four days to reach the ruby hue then the juice is aged in stainless steel tanks. This step is important as it means the delicate personality of the fruit is carefully preserved before fermentation. Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui undergoes the Charmat method of production.
As well as being a great partner for light desserts, serve with fruit salad or check out cocktails you can make with this sweet semi-sparkling. Serve at 8°C.
Not all sparkling wines are created in the same way though and this influences the flavor and even the texture of what you enjoy in your glass. Before we get to some of the top sweet sparkling wine styles, it is worth taking a quick look at some of the methods for making sparkling wine.
Méthode Traditionnelle / Traditional Method
This is the grand dame of sparkling wine methods because it makes the grand dame of sparkling wines: Champagne. It is a time-consuming, painstaking, and costly method but worth it otherwise the region of Champagne would not be so iconic. It is worth noting that, while a winemaker can make sparkling wine anywhere in the world with the traditional method, they cannot label their wine Champagne unless it is made in the famous French region.
This is because of strict protective appellation rules. Not all is lost though – winemakers can still put the words “traditional method” on their bottles. Producing sparkling wine in this way is most certainly something to boast about and indicates that a quality bubbly is in the bottle. By the way, this method is also called Méthode Champenoise, Methode Cap Classique, Metodo Classico, and klassische flaschengärung depending on the country of production.
In a very small nutshell, the crafting of Champagne begins with the base wine’s first fermentation which is followed by blending in the case of Non-Vintage Champagnes. The blend of base wines influences the character of the final fizz, so it is very important to get it right. Next, liqueur de tirage (sugar, yeast, yeast nutrients, and clarifiers) is added to the base wine and the entire concoction is decanted into thick-walled bottles for the all-important second fermentation to begin.
This is what makes Champagne Champagne as this second fermentation creates alcohol and carbon dioxide (for our bubbles!). As this process goes on, the yeast cells die and the wine takes on the toasty, brioche flavors we so love. This can go on for several years. Next is what is called “riddling”. This can be done by hand or automated and what happens is the dead yeast cells are gradually moved to the neck of the bottle.
Following this is disgorgement. The neck of the bottle is frozen in an ice-sat bath forming a plug of frozen wine that contains all of the dead yeast cells. The cap is removed, the force of the carbon dioxide in the bottle forces the plug of ice out, and lovely clear bubbly all that remains. At this point, the dosage, a mix of white wine, brandy, and sugar is added. The bottle is corked and – voilà – we have Champagne.
Tank / Charmat Method / Metodo Martinotti
This is the method for light, fruity sparkling wines where the winemaker wants to let the primary fruit aromas and flavors shine through. After the first fermentation, the winemaker induces a second fermentation in large, pressurized, stainless-steel tanks. Once complete, the wine is filtered and bottled under pressure.
The juice is chilled and stored until it is ready for production. At this point, it is warmed up to trigger fermentation. At first, carbon dioxide is allowed to escape then the vat is sealed, and fermentation continues until the ABV reaches 5 to 7%. The wine is chilled to halt fermentation and is then filtered and bottled for immediate consumption.
These are three of the main ways of making sweet sparkling wine with each one resulting in a different ABV and flavor profile.
All that is left to say is, enjoy your sweet sparkling wine!