Sweet Wine With High Alcohol Content: Top 10 Bottles, Food Pairings (2024)

by Hunter Robillard

Although they’re coveted for their luscious fruit and nut flavors, most sweet wines have much lower alcohol content compared to others.

But, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find wines with a heady mix of sweetness and boozy goodness!

There are a few strong sweet wines with an ABV of 13% and above (as compared to the 11%-13% ABV of an average wine.)    

These sweet wines with high alcohol content are either fortified wine styles like Port wine, Madeira, and Sherry (with 15-20% ABV) or regular dessert wines with around 13-15% ABV.  In this article, we’ll explore all about sweet wine with high alcohol content, the top 10 bottles to buy, and the best food to pair with these wines. We’ll also discover how these strong, sweet wines are made.   

Further reading

10 Exceptional Sweet Wines with High Alcohol Content

Here are some of the most delicious sweet wines with high alcohol content:

1. NV Barbadillo Reliquia Pedro Ximenez Sherry ($727)


This Sherry is a full-flavored, sweet wine with higher alcohol content and an aromatic bouquet of candied fruit, and delicious fig, date, and raisin flavors.

2. 1984 D'Oliveiras Bual Vintage Madeira ($194)


Here’s an elegant Madeira, one of the higher alcohol wines, with a sweet palate balanced by crisp acidity and a refreshing finish. Sweet caramel, apple, and date tasting notes complement the addictive coffee, chocolate, and baking spice nose.

3. 2004 Felsina Berardenga Vin Santo Chianti Classico ($120)


This blend of Malvasia,Trebbiano, and Sangiovese reveals stone fruit, hazelnut, and clove aromas in a delicious palate of apricot, hazelnut, and citrus zest flavors. It has higher alcohol content (15%) with balanced acidity and a long finish.

4. 2014 La Vrille Chambave Muscat Fletri ($95)


Here we have a sweet high alcohol wine with a beautiful nose of sage, cinnamon, and brilliant pear, apple, and grapefruit notes.

5. 2013 Paul Jaboulet Aine Muscat Beaumes de Venise Le Chant des Griolles ($76)


This sweet Moscatodessert wine ranks among the higher alcohol wines. It offers fruity white peach and honey flavors in an irresistible bouquet of orange, stone fruit, and pineapple aromas.

6. 2009 Chateau Coutet ($73)


Here’s a high alcohol content wine made by blending Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. It offers a magnificent spice, dried mushroom, and dried pineapple bouquet with bright honeysuckle, molasses, and fruity apricot notes.

7. 1994 Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Gran Reserva ($62)


This dessert wine offers coffee, caramel, and chocolate notes, plus delightful fruity fig, raisin, and prune aromas. 

8. 2003 Cantine Florio Targa Riserva 1840 Marsala Superiore Semisecco ($47)


Here’s a classic Marsala dessert wine with aromas of dates, apricots, and cooked plums. The palate is equally flavorful with dried fruit notes.

9. 2019 Quady Winery Orange Muscat Essensia ($33)


This high alcohol wine with sumptuous marmalade, orange, and pear flavors presents delicious sweetness tempered by bright acidity.

10. ​​2019 Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise ($30)


This is a dessert wine with aromas of lychee, rose petals, and orange blossoms. It has a long finish and fruity notes of peach, melon, and quince.

Best Food Pairing for Sweet Wines with High Alcohol Content


Sweet wines with high alcohol content complement a wide range of foods:

  • Chicken 
  • Meats
  • Barbecued short ribs
  • Artichoke 
  • Pickles 
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chocolate cake  
  • Desserts like Creme brulee

How is Sweet Wine with High Alcohol Content Made?


Most labels with high ABV are dry wines. That’s because the natural sugar in the grape is converted to alcohol during winemaking. 

To produce sweet wine with high alcohol content, the winemaker adopts one of the following processes:

  • Fortification: To increase a wine’s alcohol content and sweetness the winemaker adds a distilled spirit early in the fermentation process. This kills the wine yeast, prevents the conversion of residual sugar to alcohol, and elevates its sweetness. 
  • Natural Winemaking: During natural winemaking, the wine yeast converts the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol.  Usually, riper grapes with high sugar content produce wines with higher sugar and lower alcohol content. 

Dessert wines with high alcohol content are made using grapes with high sugar content (late harvest, frozen, or noble rot-affected grapes.) This allows the winemaker to make stronger wines and retain the wine’s natural sugar levels.

Now let’s take a look at some other high alcohol wine styles and others with high sugar content.

Other High Alcohol Wine Styles

While dry red wines usually have a harsh tannin mouthfeel with complex savory notes, dry whites are crisp with refreshing acidity. 

Let’s look at some off-dry and dry wine styles with high alcohol levels.


Other Sweet Wine Styles

Here are some great sweet, medium-low to low alcohol wine styles.


Enjoy A Boozy, Sweet Wine Today!

A sweet wine with high alcohol content would make the best boozy drink that has just the right sweetness to complement a full course meal or a decadent dessert. 


Meanwhile, if you wish to build a portfolio of investment-worthy sweet or high alcohol wines, check out the Vinovest wine investing platform. This website lets you buy, store, and sell authentic fine wines from around the world.

Start investing in minutes

Open an account, make a deposit, and start growing your wealth.

Start investing