Sauternes wine is a type of dessert wine that is made from Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The wine is named after the Sauternais region in France, where it originated.
Sauternes wine has a sweet, honeyed flavor with notes of apricot and peach. It is typically served as an after-dinner drink, or with dessert.
If you’re looking for a sauternes wine substitute, there are several options available that will surely suit your taste. Here are some of the best substitutes for sauternes wine.
What Makes Sauternes Special?
Sauternes is one of the world’s most famous sweet wines, such as Hungarian Tokaj or some of Germany’s beautiful Rieslings.
Sauternes is a Bordeaux-made dessert wine made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle grapes that may be aged for a century or more.
It’s produced from grapes infected with botrytis fungus, also known as “noble rot” in the winemaking industry.
The fungus mummifies the grapes and causes them to shrivel, concentrating their juice. The wine’s sweetness is balanced by robust, complex tastes and well-balanced acidity.
Domestic “sauterne” isn’t the same thing at all. It’s a cheap California white wine with enough sugar added to make it dessert sweet.
Read More: Is Sauvignon Blanc a Dessert Wine? See whether you can find sweet varieties of this traditionally dry white wine!
Sauternes Wine for Cooking
Sauternes wine is a classic ingredient in many French recipes. It is often used in sauces, as it pairs well with poultry and fish. Sauternes wine can also be used in desserts, or simply enjoyed on its own.
Many recipes call for the cheaper sauterne wine, a California white wine, for use in recipes. This is much more affordable and lends a nice wine flavor.
When cooking with wine, it is important to remember that the alcohol will not cook off completely.
If you are looking for a non-alcoholic sauterne wine substitute, consider using apple cider, white grape juice, or white cranberry juice.
How To Serve Sauternes Wine
Sauternes wine is typically served as an after-dinner drink, or with dessert. It can be served chilled or at room temperature.
Sauterne wine is a versatile wine that pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, including foie gras, pate, sausages, and cheese.
If you’re looking to enjoy sauternes wine at home but don’t have any on hand, there are several great sauterne wine substitutes available.
Sauternes Wine Substitutes
Riesling is a type of white wine that shares many similarities with sauterne wine. It has a sweet, fruity flavor with notes of apricot and peach. Riesling is a great substitute for sauterne wine in both sweet and savory dishes.
Rieslings from the Rhine area of Germany are well-known for their sweet, fruity flavor. Riesling wines are recognized for being quite delectable, making them an ideal wine to pair with food.
Read our related article on Riesling vs Moscato where we compare these two wines, their flavor profiles, and help you choose the right one for you!
2. Mirin Wine
Mirin wine, also known as rice wine, is a popular sauterne wine substitute. It has a sweet, fruity flavor that pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes.
Mirin wine is often used in Asian cooking, particularly in marinades and sauces.
To use mirin wine as a sauterne substitute, simply replace the sauterne in your recipe with an equal amount of mirin.
Be sure to adjust any other seasonings or ingredients to account for the different flavor profiles of mirin.
3. Semillon Wine
Semillon wine is a white wine produced in the same regions as sauternes wine. It has a sweet, flowery taste with notes of apricot and peach.
In both sweet and savory dishes, Semillon wine makes an excellent substitute for sauternes wine.
Semillion wines are grown primarily in the Sauterne region, giving them their characteristic sweetness.
The grapes used to make Semillon wines are often dried before fermentation, resulting in a sweet and complex taste profile.
Semillon wines pair well with light meats such as chicken or fish, as well as seafood dishes like shrimp scampi or clams casino.
If you find your Semillon wine to be too sweet, consider adding a touch of white vinegar or lemon juice to balance the taste.
4. Chenin Blanc Wine
A popular white wine produced in the Loire Valley of France, Chenin Blanc is similar to Sauternes. It has a delicious fruity flavor with undertones of apricot and peach.
In both sweet and savory recipes, sauternes wine can be replaced by Chenin Blanc wine.
Chenin Blanc wines are known for their characteristic sweetness, which is the result of the high sugar content of the grapes used to make the wine.
The sweetness of Chenin Blanc wines is often balanced by acidity, resulting in a well-rounded flavor profile.
Chenin Blanc wines are typically served as a pre-dinner apéritif or paired with light meats such as chicken or fish.
Read our related article on What Wine to Serve With Chicken Piccata for more pairing ideas!
5. Moscato d’Asti
A sparkling wine produced in the Piedmont region of Italy, Moscato d’Asti has some similarities to Sauternes. It has a sweet, fruity flavor with notes of apricot and peach.
Moscato d’Asti is an excellent substitute for sauternes wine in both sweet and savory dishes.
Moscato d’Asti has its roots in muscat grapes, which are known for their characteristic sweetness.
The fermentation process also contributes to the high sugar content of this sparkling wine, resulting in a complex and enjoyable flavor profile.
Moscato d’Astis are typically served as an after-dinner drink or paired with fruit desserts like peach cobbler or an apricot tart.
Read our related article on Port Wine Substitutes where we share our favorite substitutes for when you don’t have Port nearby!
When it comes to finding a sauternes wine substitute, your best bet is to look for a dessert wine or sparkling wine that shares similar flavor profiles.
Moscato, Chenin Blanc, and Semillon wines are all great choices. If you find your chosen wine to be too sweet, simply add a splash of acidity (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) or mix in a little dry wine to balance the flavor.