Dessert wines differ from table wines mainly in that they have an expressed sweet taste due to their high content of sugar and alcohol. To produce dessert wines, usually they use grape varieties that accumulate a lot of sugar and are characterized by a strong aroma. The grapes are harvested during the overheating phase. Much like other wines, dessert wines are also divided into white and red.
A variation of grape dessert wines are vermouths. The name comes from the German word for the wormwood herb (Wermut). They can be thought of as aromatic dessert wines. They're made from aged white wine, most frequently Misket, to which they add spirits, sugar and a vermouth infusion.
Of course, probably the most famous dessert wine comes from Italy and is called Marsala. Marsala is an ancient city located on the coast of modern-day Sicily. Like other dessert wines, Marsala too has a high alcoholic content - 17 to 20% ABV. This applies to both variations of the wine - dry and sweet. Nowadays the wine is used more for desserts and different culinary combinations but it was not always so.
Marsala wine is made from local grape varieties such as Catarratto, Grillo and Inzolia - all of them white grapes. Perhaps you might be asking yourself where the ruby color of Marsala comes from. The answer is simple - 3 traditional local red wine varieties are also combined.
Other notable dessert wines that are exceptionally popular are Sherry and port. Port comes from the Porto region in Portugal and is also called port wine. Actually this is the first classified wine region in the world.
Port wine is always a blend. The most important red varieties used for its production are Tinta Roriz - the Spanish variety Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional - the highest quality wine from the Douro valley.
Sherry is not a wine from a single harvest either, it is sold and known by its brand name on the market. The main styles of Sherry are 3 in number. Fino is a light and pale wine, consumed young and chilled.
Oloroso is a full-bodied, strong wine with a rusty color and intense nut taste, with a great potential for aging. Palo Cortado is a rare style of Sherry that combines the characteristics of the other 2 styles.