Dessert wine is a broad category of sweet wines meant to be served at the end of a meal. These wines are often sweeter and have a higher alcohol content than other types of wine, and they include a wide range of types such as fortified wines, sweet red wines, and sparkling wines. You can serve dessert wines with sweets or a [cheese plate](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/charcuterie-board-guide), but many dessert wines—such as vini da meditazione (wines of meditation)—can be sipped alone.\nSpecial harvesting and winemaking techniques give dessert wines their characteristic sweetness:\n\n- __Late harvest__: Grapes harvested later are riper and sweeter. Grapes can even be left to wither on the vine for more concentrated sweetness. \n- __Fortification__: Fortified [wines](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/complete-guide-to-fortified-wine) are made by adding another spirit, such as [brandy](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/brandy-alcohol-guide), to the wine. This both increases the alcohol content and halts fermentation. (Dry wines, in contrast, are fermented until most of the sugar has converted to alcohol.)\n- __Noble rot__: When *Botrytis cinerea* fungus attacks ripe grapes, the grapes become incredibly sweet and capable of producing highly ageable wines.\nNearly every winemaking region in the world has its own sweet dessert wines. These are some of the best-known dessert wines:\n\n1. __Eiswein__: Literally "ice wine," this unfortified sweet wine from Germany and Austria features grapes—often [Riesling](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-riesling-grapes-wine-history-and-region)—that have frozen on the vine, concentrating both their sweetness and acidity.\n2. __Beerenauslese__: This designation, which means "berry selection" in German, is given to wines in Germany and Austria that are made with grapes, such as Riesling and [Gewürztraminer](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/gewurztramine-wine-history-tasting-notes-and-pairings), that have been affected by noble rot.\n3. __Passito__: Passito is a category of unfortified Italian [dried-grape wines](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/passito-wine-guide). Drying the grapes concentrates the sugars, resulting in a sweeter, more alcoholic wine. Many popular Italian wines are also made as a passito, such as Brachetto d'Acqui and Moscato di Pantelleria (Muscat of Alexandria).\n4. __Moscato d’Asti__: This sweet, unfortified, slightly sparkling wine comes from Piedmont in the northwest of Italy. [Moscato d'Asti](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-moscato-wine) is more of a breakfast wine than a dessert wine, but Moscato d’Asti Vendemmia Tardiva, made from dried grapes, has a pronounced sweetness more typically associated with dessert. Both are made with Moscato Bianco (aka Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains).\n5. __Madeira__: Madeira is a [fortified wine](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/madeira-wine-guide) from the island of Madeira in Portugal, 450 miles off the coast of Morocco. Intentional oxidation during the winemaking process creates nutty, bruised-apple or apricot notes in styles that range from dry to quite sweet, and shades of light amber to tawny caramel.\n6. __Port wine__: This fortified wine gets its name from the city of Porto, Portugal, and is produced in the Douro Valley. Port is made from both white and red wine grapes. While port is always aged at least two years, tawny port is aged even longer, anywhere from 10 to 40 years.\n7. __Tokaji Aszú__: Made from partially dried grapes affected by noble rot, this unfortified wine from Hungary is high in residual sugar. It’s typically orange in color due to skin contact in the winemaking process.\n8. __Sauternes__: Sauternes is a region in France, south of [Bordeaux](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-the-bordeaux-wine-region), famous for its production of unfortified sweet white wines. It is made primarily from [Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/semillon-wine-guide) affected by noble rot.\n9. __Vin doux nature__: Meaning "naturally sweet" in French, this wine is made by halting fermentation with the addition of alcohol. The grapes involved are typically Muscat grape varieties and [Grenache](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-grenache-wine-grape-history-characteristics-and-different-grenache-wines).\n10. __Sherry__: This fortified wine is produced in the Jerez region of Spain and is made from the Palomino, Muscat, or Pedro Ximénez grape. Sherry production is unique in that the winemaker intentionally exposes the wine to oxygen, which imparts a nutty and briny flavor profile.\nWant to learn more about the culinary arts? The [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) provides exclusive video lessons from the world’s best chefs and wine critics, including James Suckling, Lynnette Marrero, Ryan Chetiyawardana, Gabriela Cámara, Gordon Ramsay, Massimo Bottura, and more. \nDessert wines are sweet after-dinner drinks made with various grapes and methods of production.