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Winner Details

Sweet Wines

2014: Gold: 6; Silver: 13; Bronze: 5; Commended: 5
2013: Gold: 7; Silver: 6; Bronze: 5
Must-list index: 90%
Overall performance SWA 2014: B

Sweet wines are a big and vibrant part of the Sommelier Wine Awards, which is great to see but slightly surprising, given that the wines don’t exactly fly off the list in most venues.

Yet what we saw here this year was, perhaps, proof of why this is such an interesting area.

There was something here for everyone: pricey A-list Eiswines, and amazing value New World stickies; elegant Rieslings and plush Tokajis; crowd-pleasing vendanges tardives and Jura vins de paille for the connoisseur.

It’s useful to have the choice, too, since it’s a rare list that doesn’t have at least one sweetie. ‘You have got to have the option of sweet wine, even in a cheaper restaurant,’ said team leader Annette Scarfe MW. ‘There was plenty here that you could put on, from £7 or so a glass, which would give you a very good return.’

Prices, as you would expect, ranged from around a fiver to getting on for the £100 mark. But, with the exception of Eiswines, which were acknowledged as being a real five-star luxury, there was less discussion about price than you might think.

‘Price points are less of an issue because these are wines that you sell be the glass,’ said Xavier Le-Bellego of Forburys Restaurant.

Even sold in single-serves, these are wines that need a bit of love and attention from the front-of-house team. ‘They are a hand sell,’ admitted Claire Love of Loves Restaurant. ‘We recommend every single dessert wine as a dessert match on our menu – otherwise we wouldn’t sell it. You need to think more outside the box with dessert wines – with other foods or on their own. Then there are so many more opportunities.’


Congratulations to Fairview – its well-priced La Beryl Blanc picked up a place on the Gold List for the second year running

FOOTNOTE: This section includes botrytis and non-botrytis wines, eiswine and red sweet wines, but nothing fortifited. While prices shown on these pages relate to the size of bottle on sale, for judging purposes, prices were given for the 75cl equivalent volume

From the Tasting Teams

‘Because it’s a wine that comes at the end of the meal it has to be absolutely spot-on quality-wise as it is the customer’s last impression of your list.’ Xavier Le-Bellego, Forburys Restaurant

‘[Stickies] are an experience wine for people visiting the restaurant. They’re on a special night out and it’s part of that experience.’ Giuseppe Longobardi, Restaurant 23

‘There is a lot of talk about pairing sweet wine with the right dessert, but with a lot of these wines I think the best thing can be to serve them on their own, as a fresh, sweet finish to the meal.’ Courtney Stebbings, The River Café

‘It’s worth having a couple of options. A lighter, very fresh style at the lower price, then a richer – but still fresh – wine that would also pair with quite sweet dishes.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

‘This is a very useful part of the list. You have to push it, but if you do it can deliver very good returns.’ Frédéric Jean-Yves Billet, Luton Hoo Hotel Golf and Spa