Sweet white wine is made all over the world, from France’s Sauternes to Italy’s Moscato wine, but one country particularly renowned for producing great whites high on the wine sweetness chart is Germany. In fact, some of the country’s most popular white wine grapes, which may produce either sweet or dry wines, really shine as sweet wines.
Riesling is the most-grown white wine grape in all of Germany. Popular to grow in the Rhine region, Riesling offers a heady aroma with notes of citrus and tree fruit. The acidity in Riesling offers ideal balance to the wine’s high levels of residual sugars, while notes of petrol can add a delightful counterpoint to its honey notes. Riesling is often consumed young, but sweet Rieslings especially may be good candidates for aging up to 30 years.
A cross between the table grape Madeleine Royale and the Riesling grape, this sweet wine grape was created in the late 1800s by Dr. Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau. Müller-Thurgau was specifically bred to grow well in cooler areas. Lower in acidity than Riesling, it makes wine featuring a floral aroma with notes of fresh rhubarb and peaches.
Read more about sweet wine types from around the world.
Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris)
Grauburgunder is the German name for what is known elsewhere as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. This grape offers naturally high sugar content, producing a textural, fruit-forward, and floral wine. In Germany, it is often grown in Baden, Pfalz, and Rheinhessen.
With notes of passion fruit, stone fruit, and herbs, Silvaner, like Riesling, achieves balance with its crisp acidity. The wine’s acid also helps cut through its thick texture. When produced in Germany’s Franken region, Silvaner picks up the area’s chalky terroir, giving it a more earthy character.
Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc)
Weißburgunder is known elsewhere as Pinot Blanc or Pinot Bianco, and grown in similar regions of Germany as Grauburgunder. Weißburgunder is more floral and fruit-driven than its Italian counterpart Pinot Bianco, and typically offers notes of apple, pear and citrus.