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File:Late harvest Semillon.jpg
A glass and bottle of sweet wine from Washington.

Sweet wines (dessert wines or pudding wines) are legally defined as any wine over 14% alcohol by volume, which includes all fortified wines - and is taxed more highly as a result. This dates back to a time when the US wine industry only made dessert wines by fortification, but such a classification is outdated now that modern yeast and viticulture can produce dry wines over 15% without fortification. Generally, sweet wines are considered to be any sweet wine drunk with a meal, as opposed to the white fortified wines drunk before the meal, and the red fortified wines (port and madeira) drunk after it. Thus, most fortified wines are regarded as distinct from sweet wines, but some of the less strong fortified white wines are regarded as honorary dessert wines.