A sparkling wine with extra sweetness is the perfect treat, whether to celebrate an occasion or simply to enjoy yourself. If you’re new to sparkling wine, or if you’ve always found wine a little too dry or acidic, finding the best sweet sparkling wine for your tastes will open you up to a world of sensory pleasure.
This guide will explain how sparkling wines are made sweet so you know how to find one for you. We’ll also define the terms for sweetness so you can read bottle labels properly and take you through well-known sweet sparkling wines to look out for.
What Makes a Sparkling Wine Sweet?
As with foods, the most important factor for determining the sweetness of any wine is the sugar content. All wine will have sugar added to it in the production process. It’s the sugar that’s left after the secondary fermentation that makes all the difference.
To understand this, it’s useful to know how sparkling wine is made.
Sparkling Wine Production
After grapes are picked and pressed, the base wine blend will be fermented. Then, sugar and yeast will be added – this is referred to as the liqueur de tirage. The yeast will consume the sugar and start to release carbon dioxide, which is where the fizz of sparkling wine comes from. This is the secondary fermentation.
The yeast cells will start to die and collect as deposits in the wine. These are called the lees. Wine will be aged on these lees which helps to develop richer flavours and more complex aromas. However, lees need to be removed before the wine is finally bottled.
This removal then means there is missing liquid in the wine bottle. The last step, then, is to fill the bottle with a mixture of wine and sugar – this is called dosage. The dosage process will help to determine how sweet the finished wine will be depending on how much sugar is added in this stage.See our range
How to Determine Sweetness in Sparkling Wine
The amount of residual sugar in sparkling wine is generally measured in grams per litre (g/L). As with a lot of languages used to describe wine, there are French terms that you’ll see on labels to describe sweetness.
While different individual perceptions of sweetness will obviously have an effect, you can use these terms as a useful sparkling wine sweetness scale:
- Doux: Very sweet (more than 50 g/L of sugar)
- Demi-Sec: Sweet (32-50 g/L of sugar)
- Sec: Medium sweet (17-32 g/L of sugar)
- Extra Dry: Off-dry (12-17 g/L of sugar)
- Brut: Dry (less than 12 g/L of sugar)
- Extra Brut: Very dry (0-6 g/L of sugar)
- Brut Nature or Brut Zero: No added sugar (0-3 g/L of sugar)
Check out a visual representation of this with our sparkling wine sweetness chart:
The Best Sweet Sparkling Wines
So what is the best sweet sparkling wine? That depends on what you’re looking for:
Best Sweet Sparkling Red Wines
It’s harder to find a sweet sparkling red wine as they are relatively rare in comparison to white or rosé sparklers, but they are out there:
- Brachetto d’Acqui: This is a popular Italian dessert wine, and known as one of the best semi-sparklers. It’s floral and very aromatic, pairing well with chocolate.
- Sparkling Shiraz: The Shiraz grape gives this Australian wine a rich, dark flavour that keeps it from being too sweet. It works well with savoury dishes like barbecued meats.
- Red Moscato: A red Moscato is a pleasant summer wine known for its light, fruity sweetness. It’s not as fizzy as other sparkling wines.
Best Sweet Sparkling White Wine
White sparkling wine is the most common type you’ll find, so your options are very open:
- Demi-Sec Champagne: Champagne comes in many different styles but if you’re looking for sweet, look for one with Demi-Sec on its label. It still retains the elegant dryness typical of Champagne but with more sugar, making it the perfect semi-sweet sparkling wine.
- Cava Semi-Seco: The Spanish sparkling wine of choice, just look for “Semi-Seco” on a bottle of Cava if you want a particularly sweet version.
- Prosecco: Though not technically referred to as a sweet sparkling wine, the Glera grape which is used to make Prosecco is naturally sweet with a light fruitiness that makes it a great all-rounder.
- Moscato d’Asti: This is a low-alcohol content sparkling white, considered a dessert wine as it is so sweet, sometimes even described as honey-like.
Best Sweet Sparkling Rosé Wine
- Bugey Cerdon: This rosé originates from Eastern France and is known for its noticeably sweet floral taste with delicate notes of rose petals and red berries.
- Moscato Rosé: This type of Moscato wine is a sweeter, lighter version of the sparkling Red Moscato with similar notes of fruitiness.
Sample Our Award-Winning Sparkling Wine
If you’re looking to taste the best sparkling wines produced in the UK, look no further. At Bolney Wine Estate, we’ve been making innovative English sparkling wines for over 50 years in our Sussex vineyards. Our expertise and passion have brought us a string of awards along the way.
We have sparkling red, white and rosé wines that make the perfect addition to your next celebration – or just as a treat! You can buy single bottles or get a mixed case to try multiple styles and decide on your favourite.
And don’t forget to explore our Subscribe & Save offer, which means you can get your favourite sparkling wine delivered to your door every month.Shop English Sparkling Wine