My wife loves drinking Moscato and Stella Rosa but they don't intoxicate her. I have to occasionally spike her drinks (obviously knowingly) with whiskey for her to feel a "buzz." Are there any wines that are maybe not as sweet as the 2 mentioned but less dry that provider maybe like a 12 to 15% alcohol content?

It depends on how sweet you are looking for. If you are looking for very sweet than dessert wines are the way to go, a Sauternes or Mustacel will be at least 12% if not higher. If all you want is a fruitier wine then many German white wines like Rieslings or Gewürztraminers tend to be on the sweet side, sometimes too sweet for many palates. Slightly less sweet whites are Sauvignon Blancs, Chenin blancs, soaves, the list goes on. All of these should be above 12%

Reds are tough for people with sweet palates, there are red dessert wines out there, and there are sweeter reds but there's no variety I can think of that is reliably sweeter. Roses are often sweet, especially the cheaper ones like White Zinfandel, but those can be low quality. A good Zinfandel red is a great wine, but not what I'd consider sweet.

  • The German Gewurtz & Rieslings are capable of being vinified and enjoyed in styles runing the entire gamut of bone dry to (uber) sweet. However, I find that the late harvest and S.G.N. of these varietals In Alsace are beutifully balanced with just a hint of bracing acidity on the finish to prevent the wine becoming cloying. – Peter Point May 5 '17 at 3:00
  • Re-reading my answer I feel like I may have maligned German wines a bit @PeterPoint. There are certainly wines from that area with complexity and balance. However, if you want fruit bombs there's plenty to choose from. – GdD May 5 '17 at 7:41

A little primer on alcohol and sugar in wine. The lower the alcohol is usually associated with higher acid levels because the grapes are picked less ripe. Champagne is a good example of this. To offset the biting acids, winemakers usually add sugar to compensate. That's why so many low alcohol wines are sweet.

Can you find higher alcohol wines that are sweeter? Sure, dessert wines come to mind. Sauternes, Ice Wines, Tokay, Late Harvest wines are sweet with more alcohol. A lot of mainstream wine brands, like Sutter Home are purposely made sweeter. Unfortunately, the cheaper the wine, usually the sweeter it is.

Like I always mention here, wine is an adventure that only you can travel. You need to discover what you like (or your wife in this case). But I think these are several recommendations that should set you on the path.

  • The sweetness comes from added sugar rather than from lower-powered yeast dying off before they've eaten all the (naturally-occurring) sugar? I did not know that. – Monica Cellio May 3 '17 at 21:26
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    It's both. You can add sugar or grape juice (since sugar is sometimes not allowed) or the yeast craps out before fermentation is done, or you can sterile filter it before it's done. Finally, you can add chemicals to stop it, Port and Madeira they just use alcohol to stop the process reserving some of the unfermented juice for sweetness – farmersteve May 3 '17 at 21:38
  • My vote goes to S.G.N. wines from Alsace with Domaine Weinbach (Faller) being an all time favorite. – Peter Point May 5 '17 at 2:52
  • Either Vendange Tardive (late harvest) or Sélection de Grains Nobles (grapes picked from Noble rot) from the Alsace region make great dessert style wines with plenty of residual sugar to please the sweet tooth. – farmersteve May 5 '17 at 14:43

Most fortified wines such as port, Madeira, (sweet) sherry, Commandaria are both very sweet and are very high in alcohol. Many are in the range of 20% ABV. I would strongly [pun intended] suggest seeing if she enjoys Port or Madeira. My personal favourite strong, sweet wine is Elysium Black muscat. It is so sweet that I commonly have it as dessert in restaurants.

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    Careful of these though as they tend to be hangover producing in large quantities. – GdD May 3 '17 at 11:22
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    I think I'm actually ok with the hangover factor. – Andre Hopkins May 3 '17 at 18:03

Please consider the sweet and fortified wines of the Rhone with Muscat de Beaumes de Venise being the kind of wine that might give satisfaction allround. I find that the great house of E. Guigal offers an excellent price/quality/ratio for this wine.

My favourite wine varietal these days is Portguese Vinho Verde which is a super-sweet white wine.

Two major brands are Sogrape Gazela Vinho Verde at 9% ABV, sugar content 11g/L or Caves Alianca Vinicola De Sangalhos Vinho Verde which is actually 10% ABV, sugar content 14g/L

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