Wine taste preferences: it's okay to like sweet wine - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

Have you ever felt embarrassed to show a liking for sweet wine when in the company of self-proclaimed wine enthusiasts? Well don't be! Your preference for slightly sweet white wines or blush style rosés is shared with many other people - the idea that dry wines are somehow better or that highly alcoholic red wines that come with a mouth-drying tannic aftertaste are the choice you move on to after the beginners sweet phase is now known to be incorrect thanks to research.

It's all down to taste sensitivity. Research by Tim Hanni and Virginia Utermohlem found that people differ in the strength of the taste signals coming from the mouth and nose when they drink wine - those with the highest taste sensitivity preferred sweet flavours to offset the bitterness found in many foods and drinks.

If this is you then you'll find you prefer slightly sweet wines like White Grenache (a blush rosé), German Rieslings, lower alcohol lightly sparkling Moscato and Australian Shiraz. But you won't like Pinot Noir reds from the Burgundy region of France.

Those with a lower threshold of taste sensitivity seem to prefer strong tasting red wines.

It's all down to our age and experiences. Children are biologically designed to like sweetflavours - but this tails off in the early teenage years and is replaced with life experiences which then tell us whether to continue liking sweet or to seek out bitter, stronger flavours – or a mixture of both. Everyone is different.

So there is no truth in the old adage that as your palate matures it becomes more sophisticated. It may change but that is a slightly different kettle of fish – or barrel of wine. 

So why put yourself through the burp-inducing tooth-enamel cleaning lemoniness of many supermarket champagnes when a semi-sweet slightly sparkling Moscato would be preferred? Or an expensive older wine that has been “cellared”, or kept in storage, for a few years – possible over a decade? These wines will have lost their initial fruity flavours and been replaced with more earthy, meaty (sometimes) tastes that you may or may not like.

So drink what you like and not what society says you should. Move away from the stereotypes and drink what you, really, really want. Perhaps the Spice Girls were right all along. top-rated slightly sweet wines

Aldi Blugarten German Riesling 2020

£4.49 Aldi

five stars


A lovely pale green German Riesling with refreshing flavours of apple and lime with a sweetness of lemon curd. A top wine at a great price of just £4.49.


Geometria Malagouzia 2019

£10.95 The Wine Society

four stars


The Greek white grape variety Malagouzia is becoming fashionable and rightly so if this example is anything to go by. The aroma reminds me of a mandarin and lemon trifle with a rich sponge at the base. There is a richness across the tongue but with a lime and orange peel zing. Balanced and drinkable with or without food.


Stormhoek Fairtrade Moscato Petillant sweet rosé

£4 Co-op

three stars


At just 5.5% alcohol with a touch of sparkle (or petillant) this sweet pink wine made with the aromatic Moscato grape variety is a simple slurp best enjoyed straight from the fridge. Sweet apple and melon flavours with a bit of bubblegum and aspirin astringency.


Chateau Gravas Sauternes 2016

£12.99 (half bottle) Virgin Wines

four stars


This dessert wine made from the Semillon grape comes from the Bordeaux region of France isn't excessively sweet. It’s sweet-sour flavours of Seville orange marmalade with added lemon and the aromas of a fluffy textured apple are most appealing.


[yellow tail] Jammy Red Roo

£7 Tesco

three stars


It's jammy flavoured and Australian from the big-name yellow tail stable that loves to use square brackets and lower case just to catch your attention. And it will with its sweet and fruity flavours with a chocolately backdrop and extra barley sugar flavours. Yes it is definitely sweet.


Jam Shed Shiraz 2020

£7 Tesco, £13 in 1.5-litre box (equivalent to 2x75cl bottles)

three stars


jamshed15frontSimple but tasty. The label suggests you drink this slightly chilled to downplay the sweetness – but that’s up to you as you may like the barley sugar flavour that adds a slight cough sweet element which matches the spice and blackberry that has a distinct weak coffee edge.


Botham and Balfour English Rosé 2020

£12 Tesco, £15 Botham Wines

three stars


A collaboration between ex-English cricketer Sir Ian Botham OBE and the owners of Kent’s Hush Heath Estate, the Balfour-Lynns, has produced this tasty English rosé with flavours of almond cake and strawberry ice cream. I didn’t find the back label aroma description of ‘orchard flowers enveloped in spice’ but I did enjoy reading it.

bermix studio bexs0yun9au unsplash 01

Email newsletter

Get the latest wine reviews
and tips straight to your inbox


About WineUncorked and its editor, Paula Goddard Read more