5 Types of Dessert Wine
VDN is made from Grenache. For example, Maury, Rasteau, and Banyuls from the Languedoc-Roussillon region are typical of the southern region of France; Vin Santo Liquoroso (Italy), Muscat de Rivesaltes (VDN), Muscat de Frotignan (VDN), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (VDN), Ruthernglen Muscat (Australia), Orange Muscat (Australia), Muscat de Rivesaltes (VDN), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (VDN), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (VDN), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (VDN VDN is headquartered in Malvasia.
Mainly Italian and Sicilian varietals, including Malvasia delle Lipari Liquoroso.
Types of Dessert Wines
- Sweet Red Wine
- Fortified Wine
- Sparkling Dessert Wine
- Lightly Sweet Dessert Wine
- Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
A Guide to Dessert Wines
Sweet wine is made from grapes that are exceptionally sweet! In order to produce sweet wine, the fermentation process must be stopped before the yeast has converted all of the grape sugars to alcohol. To stop fermentations, numerous techniques are available, including super-cooling the wine or adding brandy to the mixture. The end product is a full-bodied wine that has been naturally sweetened with grape sugars. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of different varieties of dessert wines available on the market, the majority of them fall into five broad categories.
Take a look at all five kinds for a comprehensive look at dessert wines.
Sparkling Dessert Wine
Because of the carbonation and strong acidity in sparkling wine, it appears to be less sweet than it actually is! Certain grape types have a more pleasant aroma than others. This deceives our brain into believing that they taste sweeter as well! Consider the difference in sweetness between a Demi-Sec Moscato (or “Semi Secco”) and a Demi-Sec Champagne, despite the fact that they may contain the same quantity of sugar. Pay attention to the following terms on the label of sweet dessert wines, sparkling wines, and other sparkling beverages: Purchase the book and receive the course!
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- Demi-Sec* (which translates as “off-dry” in French)
- Amabile (which translates as “slightly sweet” in Italian)
- Semi Secco* (which translates as “off-dry” in Italian)
- French for “sweet,” Dolce / Dulce (Italian for “sweet,” Spanish for “sweet,” and Moelleux (French for “sweet,” for some French wines)
- Doux (French for “sweet,” Dolce / Dulce (Italian for “sweet,” Spanish for “sweet”)
*Not to be confused with the terms “sec” or “secco,” which are used to describe dryness in both French and Italian.
Lightly-Sweet Dessert Wine
Lightly sweet wines have a delightful sweetness to them, making them ideal for a hot afternoon. Many of these sweet wines go well with spicy dishes such as Indian or Southeast Asian cuisine, which is why they are so popular. Lightly sweet wines are best consumed as soon as possible after the vintage date, with the exception of a few exceptional examples, such as German Riesling, which may be savored for several years after the vintage date. Expect these wines to be bursting with fruit tastes and well-suited for desserts that are fruit-based or vanilla-driven.
Consider the wine Gewürztraminer, which is renowned for its fragrances of lychee and rose petals, among other things. Fruit tarts and a Gewürztraminer go together like peanut butter and jelly.
- Gewürztraminer Alsace, Alto-Adige (Italy), California, and New Zealand are all places where you may get this extremely flowery wine with modest alcohol content: Riesling Available in both dry styles (which are popular in Australia, Alsace, and the United States) and sweeter styles (which are more usually found in Germany). A wine with a high level of natural acidity, which helps to cut through the sweetness of the flavor
- Müller-Thurgau A less common type, also from Germany, that may be found in some regions of Oregon and has flowery scents and a little softer acidity than the other varieties. Porch wine is a classic and is especially good with sausages. Chenin Blanc is a white wine produced in France. When it comes to Chenin Blanc, a sweeter flavor is more frequent in the United States, although it is also produced in significant quantities in South Africa and France’s Loire Valley region. When purchasing Chenin Blanc, pay close attention to the label because many South African and French producers produce dry versions that taste more like a dry Sauvignon Blanc
- When purchasing Viognier, pay close attention to the label because many South African and French producers create dry versions that taste more like a dry Sauvignon Blanc
- The majority of the time, viognier is not sweet. However, because it is an aromatic grape type, you might occasionally encounter it in a fruit-driven style that smells like peaches and perfume. It has a thick, oily texture on the palate. This kind of Viognier may be found exclusively in Condrieu AOP (Rhône Valley) in France
- It is also known as “Condrieu Blanc.”
Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
With the best quality fruits and in an unfortified manner, these richly sweet wines are produced. Sugar and acidity allow many of these wines to retain their fresh flavor even after 50 years or more in the bottle. For example, the HungarianTokaji (pronounced “toe-kye”) was a favorite of the Tzars of Russia, while South African Constantia was a favorite of both the Dutch and the English. The FrenchSauternes was a favorite of Americans in the early 1800’s and is still popular today. There are numerous methods for producing highly sweet dessert wines, and you may gain a better understanding of them by looking at how they are prepared.
Late harvest refers to precisely what it says on the tin. With each additional day that grapes are allowed to hang on the vine, they get progressively sweeter and more raisinated, culminating in grapes with concentrated sweetness. “Vendage Tardive” is the term used in Alsace to describe late harvest, whereas “Spätlese” is used in Germany to describe late harvest. Late harvest wines can be made from any grape that has been left on the vine. Having said that, late-harvest wines made from Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling grapes are becoming increasingly popular.
Noble rot is caused by a kind of spore known as Botrytis cinerea, which feeds on fruits and vegetables. Noble rot, despite the fact that it sounds (and seems) awful, imparts distinct notes of ginger, saffron, and honey to sweet wines. There are several different varieties of dessert wines derived from noble rot grapes that are widely available.
- Sauternais Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc are blended together in Sauternes, Barsac, Cadillac, and Monbazillac to produce a rich, golden-hued sweet wine. A collection of French Appellations in and around Bordeaux, including Sauternes, Barsac, Cadillac, and Monbazillac
- Tokaji Tokaji Asz is a Hungarian wine created from Furmint grapes
- Auslese, BA, and TBA Riesling (BA = Beerenauslese, TBA = Trockenbeerenauslese)
- And Auslese, BA, and TBA Riesling (BA = Beerenauslese, TBA = Trockenbeerenauslese). Auslese is the first level of the German Pradikat system (a sweetness labeling system), and it has a larger proportion of botrytis-affected grapes than any other level. In addition to being sweeter than German Rieslings from the “QbA” and “Kabinett” varieties, they often have a greater alcohol content.
The grapes are put out on straw mats to raisinate prior to being used in the winemaking process (also known as “Passito”).
- Italian Vin Santo is prepared from the grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia and has a rich, nutty taste that is similar to that of dates. It is possible to find various different types of Vin Santo produced throughout Italy. ‘Passito’ in Italian means ‘passion’. Another straw wine created from a variety of grapes, both white and red, this time with a fruity flavor. For example, Passito di Pantelleriais a Muscat-based wine, whereas Caluso Passitois a Piedmont-based wine created with the uncommon grapeErbaluce. Greek Straw Wines are made from grapes harvested in Greece. Vinsanto, created from high-acid white Assyrtiko grapes, is another type of wine produced in Greece. It is believed that Samos was the first sweet wine manufactured from Muscat grapes, while Commandaria was the first sweet wine made from grapes in Cyprus, dating back to 800 BCE. Strohwein (German: Strohwein/Austrian: Schilfwein) is a kind of wine produced in Germany and Austria. Schilfweins are sweet wines made from Muscat and Zweigelt grapes in Austria and Germany that are becoming increasingly rare. Vin de Paille is a French term for wine made from grapes. These Vin de Paille are produced mostly in the Jura area of France, which is next to the Alps, and are made from Chardonnay and old Savagnin grapes
- They are particularly well-known in the United States.
Ice Wine (Eiswein)
True ice wine is incredibly difficult to come by and extremely costly for two reasons. For starters, it only happens in outlandish years when a vineyard freezes. And two, ice wine must be collected and pressed while the grapes are still frozen to ensure proper fermentation. The country of Canada is the world’s largest producer of ice wine. Ice wines are most commonly found in colder climates such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The majority of ice wines are created from Riesling or Vidal grapes, however any kind of grape, including Cabernet Franc, can be used to make an ice wine.
Sweet Red Wine
Sweet reds are in decline, with the exception of commercially produced sweet reds. It’s still possible to get some excellent sweet reds that are historically fascinating and worth tasting. The bulk of these incredible sweet red wines come from Italy, where they are made from obscure grape varieties.
- Lambrusco A area known for producing a delightful sparkling wine that can be enjoyed both dry and sweet. Because it is a sparkling wine, it will have a yeasty undertone, as well as notes of raspberry and blueberry in the background. “Amabile” and “Dulce” are the names given to the sweet variants. Brachetto d’Acqui (Acquisition Brachetto) A red or rosé wine made from Brachetto grapes grown in the Piedmont area that is both still and bubbling. Famous for its flowery and strawberry scents, as well as its love for matching with cured meats, this wine is a favorite of foodies everywhere. Schiava A uncommon cultivar from the Alto-Adige region that is on the verge of extinction. A delicious scent of raspberry and cotton candy, with a refreshing, somewhat sweet taste that isn’t overpowering
- Freisa Frieda, once considered one of the great red varietals of Piedmont, is a relative of Nebbiolo, but with softer tannins and flowery cherry aromas rather than the latter. Recioto della Valpolicella (Valpolicella Recioto) Recioto della Valpolicella is a luscious, robust, and rich wine that is produced using the same meticulous procedure as Amarone wine. Late-Harvest Red Wines are a specialty of the region. There are several red dessert wines available in the United States, created from grapes such as Zinfandel, Mourvedre, Malbec, and Petite Sirah, among others. With their intense sweetness and high alcohol concentration, these wines are a feast for the senses.
Fortified wines are produced by adding grape brandy to a wine, and they can be either dry or sweet in flavor. Most fortified wines have a higher alcohol level (often 17-20 percent ABV) and have a longer shelf life once they have been opened than other types of wines.
Port wine is produced in the northern region of Portugal, along the banks of the Douro. These extremely uncommon sweet red wines are prepared from a variety of classic Portuguese grapes, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Roriz, among others. After being harvested and placed in open tanks, the grapes are stomped daily as the wine begins to mature, which results in a more concentrated flavor. When the wine is filtered and combined with pure grape spirit (with an ABV of approximately 70%), the fermentation is stopped and the wine is fortified, this is done at a certain stage throughout the fermentation.
Following this procedure, a succession of winemaking stages are carried out, which result in the creation of the various wine types described below.
- Roughed-up RubyCrusted Port (sweet) Introducing Tawny Port, a kind of Port wine that has the aroma and flavor of newly minted port and is far less sweet than its counterpart. VintageLBV Port (VintageLBV Port) (sweet) Despite the fact that LBV and Vintage Port are produced in the same manner, LBV are intended to be consumed in their youth (owing to the sort of cork enclosure used) and vintage Ports are intended to be consumed after 20-50 years of ageing. Tawny Port is a port wine produced by the Tawny Port Company (very sweet) Tawny Port is aged in big oak casks and smaller wooden barrels at the winery, where the wine is produced. The longer the Tawny Port is let to age, the more nutty and figgy it becomes in flavor. The finest tawny is between 30 and 40 years old. wine made in the style of port sa.k.a. Vin Doux Naturel (Natural Wine) (sweet) Although port can only be produced in Portugal, numerous producers across the world produce port-style wines, such as Zinfandel ‘Port’ or Pinot Noir ‘Port’, which are similar to port. These wines are referred to as vin doux naturel (natural sweet wine) (see below).
Sherry is produced in the Spanish region of Andalusia. Palomino, Pedro Ximénez (a grape, not a person), and Moscatel grapes are used in the production of the wines. Wines are made from varied proportions of the three grapes and are intentionally oxidized in order to generate nutty aromatics in the final product.
- Fino(dry) The lightest and driest of all the Sherries, with acidic and nutty notes
- The most popular of all the Sherries. Manzanilla(dry) In a more specialized location, Fino Sherry is produced in a distinct style that is even lighter in color than Fino. Palo Cortado (Corked Palo Cortado) (dry) A significantly richer kind of sherry that has been matured for a longer period of time, resulting in a deeper color and a fuller taste. This type of wine is normally dry, although it will include fruit and nut aromas due to the saline in the air. Amontillado is a kind of tequila (mostly dry) An old sherry that develops nutty notes reminiscent of peanut butter and butterscotch
- Oloroso(dry) Because of the evaporation of water as the wine matures, this sherry has a greater alcohol concentration than other sherries of the same age. In comparison to Sherry, this is more like scotch. Cream Sherry is a kind of sherry that is made using cream and sherry (sweet) When Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez Sherry are blended, the result is a sweet kind of Sherry. Moscatel(sweet) The tastes of fig and date are prominent in this sweet sherry. Pedro Ximénez (PX) is a Venezuelan politician (very sweet) It’s a really sweet sherry with notes of brown sugar and figs in it.
Madeira is a type of wine produced on the island of Madeira, which is located in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, utilizing up to four distinct grape varieties. Madeira is distinct from other wines in that it is produced through a process that includes heating and oxidation – processes that would normally “ruin” a wine in the traditional sense. The end product is a full-bodied fortified wine with notes reminiscent of walnuts, saltiness, and an oiliness on the tongue. Because of the four distinct grapes that are utilized, Madeira wines range from dry to sweet, making them a great choice to serve with a meal or even as a pre-dinner drink before supper.
- RainwaterMadeira When a label just states “Madeira” or “Rainwater,” presume that it is a combination of all four grapes and that it is somewhere in the center of the sweetness spectrum. Sercial(dry) Sercial is the driest and lightest of all the grapes grown in Madeira, and it is also the most expensive. Typically, these wines will have greater acidity and be more dry, with hints of peaches and apricot in the bouquet. It is fairly rare to find Sercial Madeira that has been aged for more than 100 years. Verdelho(dry) When let to age, Verdelho will acquire nutty flavors of almond and walnut that will complement the citrus notes. Bual(sweet) It has a sweet flavor profile, with flavors of burned caramel, brown sugar, fig, rootbeer, and black walnut in the background. Although there are numerous well-aged 50-70-year-old Bual Madeira available, it is typical to find 10-year-old’medium’ (meaning: medium sweet) Bual Madeira. Malmsey(sweet) Malmsey Madeiras include orange citrus overtones and caramel to their taste, in addition to the oily oxidized nutty flavor that is characteristic of the region.
Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)
Vin Doux Naturel is produced in a similar manner as Port, with a base wine being produced and a neutral grape brandy being added at the end. The word vin doux naturel is derived from France, however this designation may be used to any wine from any country.
- VDN is made from Grenache grapes. For example, Maury, Rasteau, and Banyuls from the Languedoc-Roussillon region are typical of the southern region of France. Muscat-based VDN Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Frotignan, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Ruthernglen Muscat (Australia), Orange Muscat, and Vin Santo Liquoroso (Italy)
- Muscat-based VDN Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Frotignan, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Ruthernglen Muscat (Australia), Orange Muscat, and Vin Santo Liquoros VDN is based in Malvasia. Malvasia delle Lipari Liquoroso, for example, is mostly from Italy and Sicily. Mavrodaphni (Greek for “sweet red wine”) is a sweet red wine produced in Greece that has many characteristics to Port.
Top Dessert Sweet Wines Best Wines Ratings Prices
| Château Climens 2007 SauternesBordeaux, France16.5/20$95
Jackson-Triggs Vintners 2007 Proprietors’ Reserve Vidal IcewineNiagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada 16/20$65 (187 ml)
Giovanni Allegrini 2009 Recioto della Valpolicella DOCVeneto, Italy15.5/20$65 (375 ml)
Bert Simon 2003 Riesling BeerenausleseMosel, Germany15/20$36
Chateau Dereszla 2006 Tokaji Aszú 5 PuttonyosTokaj, Hungary15/20$40 (500 ml)
Château Pierre-Bise Les Rouannières Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu Loire, France15/20$26 (500 ml)
Cooper Vineyards Noche Chocolate Wine Virginia15/20$17 (375 ml)
Inniskillin 2007 Vidal Icewine Ontario, Canada 15/20$50 (375 ml)
Sichel 2010 Sauternes Sweet WhiteCarneros, CA 15/20$55 (375 ml)
Stony Brook Vineyards 2006 Viognier Franschhoek, South Africa15/20$13
13th StreetWinery 2008 13° Below Zero Riesling Niagara Peninsula, Canada14.5/20$19 (375 ml)
Braida 2007 Vigna Senza Nome Moscato d’AstiMoscato d’Asti, Italy14.5/20 $17
Château de Myrat 2007 SauternesBordeaux, France 14.5/20 $20 (375 ml)
Dashe Cellars 2008 Late Harvest ZinfandelDry Creek Valley, CA 14.5/20 $24 (375 ml)
Dry River 2006 Late Harvest Riesling Craighall, New Zealand14.5/20 $45
Jana Winery 2010 Angel EisMendocino County, CA14.5/20 $40 (375 ml)
Kracher 2008 Cuvée BeerenausleseBurgenland, Austria14.5/20 $28 (375 ml)
Matanzas Creek Winery 2006 L’Ultime Red Dessert Wine Sonoma County, CA 14.5/20 $35 (500 ml)
MoëtChandon NV Nectar ImpèrialChampagne, France 14.5/20 $40
Rockbridge Vineyard 2008 V d’OrShenandoah Valley, Virginia14.5/20 $30
Rosenhof 2009 ORION EisweinBurgenland, Austria14.5/20 $28
Beni di Batasiolo Barolo ChinatoPiedmont, Italy14/20 $50 (500 ml)
Brown Estate 2006 Arrested Late Harvest ZinfandelNapa Valley, CA 14/20 $48 (375 ml)
Domaine La Tour Vielle 2006 Banyuls Rimage Mise TardiveLanguedoc-Roussillon, France14/20 $32
Hauner Malvasia Delle Lipari DOCSicily, Italy14/20 $41
Justin VineyardsWinery 2007 Deborah’s Delight White Wine Paso Robles, CA14/20 $50
Eberle 2005 Estate Muscat Canelli Paso Robles, CA13/20 $14
Wilson Creek Decadencia Dessert Wine Temecula, CA13/20 $29 (375 ml)
Dessert Wine: Why It’s Different From Other Wines and How to Pair It
In the minds of many, the word “dessert wine” conjures up images of syrupy concoctions that leave a bitter taste in the mouth. For after all, in today’s health-conscious age of low-sugar wines, keto diets, and carb-free living, who wants to drink a cloyinglysweet wine that may send your insulin levels skyrocketing and leave a sticky feeling on your tongue for hours after you’ve finished your glass? (It’s possible that there are a handful of you out there.) While the increasing popularity of dry wines (that is, wines that are not sweet) might appear to spell the end of sweet wines, this is not necessarily the case.
To that end, please allow us to provide you with some background information about dessert wine and how it differs from other types of wines.
What IsDessert Wine?
Dessert wine may be defined as any wine that is consumed during or after dessert in its broadest meaning. Dessert wine, to be more exact, is often sweet, has a distinct taste, and has a higher alcohol concentration. For example, Port, Madeira, Sherry, and late-harvest wines are all examples of late-harvest wines. Traditionnal dessert wines having an alcohol content of more than 15 percent by volume (ABV). Nonetheless, low-alcoholdessert wines with less than 10% alcohol by volume (ABV) are available, such Muscadet, Moscato d’Asti, and Brachetto d’Acqui.
- In other words, the amount of sugar that is left over after the fermentation process has taken place.
- A variety of methods were used by winemakers to create essert wines.
- It might be created from late-harvest grapes that have been allowed to raisinate and increase in sugar content as a result of being kept on the vine for a longer period of time.
- Alternatively, it may be sweetened by fortification, resulting in the production of fortified wines.
- While most dessert wines are on the sweeter side, there is a wide range of styles available under the category of dessert wines.
To be clear, dessert wines are not merely sweet, one-trick ponies, as you may have previously believed. They are deserving of a lot more recognition than that.
What to Look for inDessert Wine
Dessert wines, as previously said, are available in a variety of sweetness levels and are available in both red and white wines. Enjoying these mouthwatering sippers with dessert or as dessert in and of itself is recommended. Furthermore, it’s important to note that dessert wines are designed to be served in little wine glasses, similar to the way you’d sip on a snifter of whiskey or bourbon. (Although we must admit that we are great supporters of single-serve wine bottles that eliminate the need for a glass entirely.) If you desire a sweet dessert wine, you will get a sweet dessert wine.
Keep an eye out for the following descriptors:
Different Types ofDessert Winesand Food Pairings
While there are a plethora of wines that may be enjoyed with dessert, the ones that are featured below are the best examples of the genre. In order to avoid any unpleasant aftertaste when matching wine with sweet dessert, it’s recommended to pick a wine that is sweeter than the dessert itself. According to our enthralling guide on acidity in wine, sugar increases acidity, which is why dry wines taste harsh and sharp when served with sweet meals. With that in mind, here are many varieties of dessert wines, as well as delectable food combinations, that may enhance the flavor and overall experience of your dessert.
Despite the fact that it is best known as a sweet red wine, this fortified wine from Portugal is available in a variety of flavors ranging from deep reds to dry white and dry rosé varieties. Chocolate cake, chocolate truffles, and salted caramel desserts are all wonderful pairings for the sweetly complex redtawny port and ruby port. Serve the white or roséport wines with stone fruit, strawberry angel food cake, or lemon meringue pie to complement the flavors of the wine.
Madeirais is a fortified wine produced in Portugal’s Madeirais region, and it is renowned for its nutty, brown sugar, and burned caramel flavors. This amber-hued wine may be enjoyed on its own after a dinner, or paired with sweets like as astoffeepudding, tiramisu, or spicy treats such as chocolate truffles coated with cayenne pepper.
Known for its honeyed aromas of apricot, peach, butterscotch, and caramel, this cherished (and frequently expensive)sweet wine from France’s Sauternais area inBordeaux is much sought after. Sauternesis one of the “noble rot wines,” which include TokajiAszu wine from Hungary and SpätleseRieslings from Germany. It is prepared from grapes that have been damaged by the botrytis cinereafungus. (This fungus, which sounds disgusting, increases the sweetness of grapes while also imparting a honeyed flavor and aromatic quality.) Served with fresh and dried fruit, as well as heavier sweets such as crème brulee, cheesecake, and custards, Sauternes is a fantastic dessert option.
This fortified wine comes from the country of Spain. Sherry is often served as an aperitif before a meal; however, why not try it after a hearty dinner when you’re looking to wind down?
Fruit sweets like Pedro Ximénez are great accompaniments to crème brulee, vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate anything, or just enjoyed on their own as an after dinner treat.
This delicious sparkling wine from Germany is available in a variety of sweetness levels. Its inherent acidity helps to cut through the sweetness of the dish, making it a wonderful companion to a cheese course or cheesecake after dinner. Serve a sweeter Spätlese with citrus-based sweets such as lemon pound cake or lemon cream pie if you have a sweeter Spätlese on hand. Pear tarts and sorbet are also delicious desserts that go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Another rot wine of distinction, the tongue-twisting Gewürztraminer is a sweet, fragrant wine from the Alsace region of France that has a pleasant sweetness to it. With its lovely floral and lychee overtones, this exquisite white wine pairs perfectly with any dessert that has lychee, pear, or peach as one of the major components, such as ice cream.
In addition to being known as Muscat Blanc in its native country of Italy, Moscato is an extremely popular white wine that has built a name for itself owing to the three F’s that best characterize its character: fizzy, fruity, and flowery. This dessert wine is perfect for enjoying on a spring day or a late summer evening. It is also incredibly flexible. You might serve it with poached pears, grilled peaches, fruit tarts, nutty treats such as biscotti, or whatever else you choose.
Ice wine, also known as Eiswein in German, is a particular sort of wine that is made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. Due to the frigid environment required for the production of this dessert wine, it can only be produced in Germany and Canada. (It’s also one of the reasons why it’s a somewhat expensive wine.) Consider matching the red grape type with chocolate desserts and the white grape variety with blue cheeses and cheesecake if you have the choice between the two.
It’s Time for Dessert in a Glass
Following your education on dessert wines, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to use in a variety of real-world scenarios. Dessert wines, like any other type of wine, are characterized by a wide range of tastes and characteristics. Despite the fact that there are several “rules” associated with wine consumption, the basic line is that you are free to set your own guidelines. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a bottle of dry sparkling Brut or wonderfully crisp rosé to accompany those funfetti cupcakes you just brought out of the oven.
Who knows what will happen?
That’s the beauty of wine: no matter how you enjoy it, it is one of life’s joys that makes everything else a little bit easier to swallow.
How to Choose the Best Dessert Wines [Just Like a Sommelier!]
The greatest dessert wines should always be served alongside sweet sweets while commemorating a special occasion, such as an anniversary, a holiday or simply spending a wonderful supper with your significant other. But how can you know which ones are the best? We spend a great deal of time and effort trying to discover the perfect combination between the many courses of our dinners and the wine we serve with them. While most of us are guilty of putting in less effort when it comes to the last meal, the dessert, the majority of us are also guilty of selecting a “dry sparkling wine.” I’m sorry, but I think you made a terrible choice.
- I considered sticking with coffee until I spoke with a sommelier, who disclosed all of the secrets of selecting the greatest dessert wine for the last dish.
- Dessert wines are frequently referred to as dry sparkling wines.
- However, until the dinner concludes with a salty dish, this match is out of the question.
- Food and wine pairings are certainly not simple, and the task becomes considerably more difficult when it comes to sweets.
- If you want to pair a wine with a food, you must take into account not only the features of the cuisine and the characteristics of the wine but also the basic pairing recommendations.
- When selecting the wine, you should strive to achieve a balanced combination of the two aspects while also creating new taste experiences.
- By using analogies, it is easy to connect things together.
- Sweets and wine, on the other hand, need a thorough evaluation of both the dessert and the wine before they can be served together.
- Unless you’re a seasoned sommelier or expert, it’s doubtful that you’ll have that kind of knowledge, therefore following the golden rule is the best course of action.
The presence of sugar in the dish alters the impression of the wine as well as its organoleptic features, which is why recognizing this distinction is essential.
Types Of Desserts
The greatest dessert wines should always be served alongside sweet sweets while commemorating a special occasion, such as an anniversary, a holiday or simply a romantic supper with your partner. Choosing the appropriate ones, on the other hand, is difficult. When it comes to choosing the proper wine to match with our dinners, we take great effort to ensure that the dishes are complementary to one another. The third dish, dessert, is where most of us fall short, investing less time and effort to it and settling for a “dry sparkling wine” as our final course.
- For the record, I used to despise combining desserts with wine since I felt that one was detracting from the other by being either too sweet or too dry.
- I decided to stick with coffee after that.
- Having a glass of bubbly at the end of dinner is something we’re all used to doing.
- Wines that go well with desserts are many, and many are inexpensive.
- A wine pairing is, in reality, an amalgamation of scientific understanding and artistic flair.
- It is not enough to just look for a wine that “goes well” with a dish when it comes to pairing food and wine.
- It is possible to compare food and wine by using either contrast or analogy, which are the two most common methods of comparison.
- As a result, when it comes to selecting a dessert wine, the good old adage that states that a sweet dish should be paired with an equally sweet wine is the gold standard to follow.
- The components of the wine should be well-understood in terms of how they affect or modify the flavor of the food.
- It was developed by the Federation of Italian Sommeliers, Hoteliers, and Restaurateurs (FISAR) two systems of wine and food matching, one for salty dishes and another for sweet foods.
Having sugar in your meal modifies the perception and organoleptic aspects of the wine, which is why you must make a distinction between the two recipes.
- Sensory experiences such as aroma, spice, fat, greasy, and sweetness
When selecting the appropriate dessert wine, it is important to take the cooking time and the structure of the dessert into consideration. The properties of the wine that are allocated a monetary value are as follows:
- Amount of alcohol in a certain amount of time. Intensity and persistence. Softness. Acidity. Tannins. Effervescence. Age. Body as well as sweetness
Do you recall the golden rule? Sweets and sweet wines go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, not all sweet wines are created equal. There is a significant difference between a still sweet wine and one that is sparkling. And then there’s the question of when to offer raisin wine. Alternatively, a fortified kind. What exactly are aromatized wines, and when should they be served? It is essential that you know the answers to all of these questions if you want to be an expert in selecting the greatest dessert wines.
Still Sweet Dessert Wines
Isn’t there a golden rule somewhere? Desserts and sweet wines go together like peanut butter and jam. There are many different types of sweet wines, though. In terms of sweetness, the gap between still and sparkling sweet wines is significant. What about serving a raisin wine? When should you do so? Fortified varieties are also available. In what ways are aromatized wines used, and when should they be served? All of these questions must be answered correctly if you want to choose the best dessert wines like a sommelier.
Sparkling Sweet Dessert Wines
Although completing a dinner with sparkling wine and matching it with dessert is a classic, Champagne and Prosecco are not always the best options for this occasion. Nonetheless, there are a variety of sparkling sweet dessert wines to take into consideration. Asti Spumante, a sweet wine made from the Muscat grape varietal, is one of the most well-known sparkling dessert wines. Another notable sparkling dessert wine is Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, an Italian wine made from dried grapes using a special technique that involves three fermentations.Gran Reserve Cava and Brachetto d’Acqui are two other delicious sparkling dessert wines to consider for your final course.
Raisin wines are sometimes referred to as straw wines or Passito, which is an Italian term that describes the method of production used to make them. All raisin wines are often distinguished by a sweet taste that is obtained from the technique of manufacturing. Before fermentation, the grapes are allowed to dry out in order to remove any remaining water. Each grape becomes more concentrated as a result of the concentration of sugars and aromas, giving the wine a distinct taste and fragrance profile.
- Respectable wineries typically dry the grapes directly on the vine, which causes the harvest to be delayed by approximately one month as compared to the natural ripening of the grapes.
- With the use of a ventilation system that mimics nature’s process, the grapes may also be dried after they have been harvested.
- The picking of grapes and allowing them to dry in the sun for roughly a month is another drying procedure used by many wineries.
- Because of their complex fragrance and sweet flavor, raisin wines are a fantastic match for sweet dishes like desserts.
- Spain is well-known for its Ligeruelo wine, which is a dessert wine that goes well with a variety of delicacies.
However, it is Italy that is most well-known for its raisin wines. The most well-known is certainly Vin Santo, which is made in Tuscany; other great raisin wines to consider include Moscato Passito di Pantelleria and Caluso Passito, both of which are produced in Sicily.
Fortified Dessert Wines
Fortified wines are produced using the traditional fermentation procedure, but at some point during the production process, the winemakers add a little amount of alcohol, either ethyl alcohol or wine distillates, to “fortify” the wine and make it more drinkable. Depending on the sort of fortified wine that is being produced, alcohol can be added either during the fermentation process or after the fermentation process has completed itself. First, the high quantity of alcohol will render the yeasts inactive, resulting in the fermentation process coming to a close practically immediately in the first example.
Madeira and Porto are two of the most well-known fortified wines in the world.
Keep in mind, however, that Marsala is made by adding brandy to wine after the fermentation process is complete; as a result, Marsala is available in both a dry and a sweet version.
Jerez is a fortified wine that is similar to Sherry in flavor.
Aromatized Dessert Wines
When one or more wines are blended with liqueurs, herbs, juices, and/or spices, the result is known as aromatized wines. Most aromatized wines are made from a blend of sparkling and still wines fortified with grappa or brandy, and sweetened with grape must, sugar, fructose, glucose syrup, or honey. There is no restriction on the types of aromas or spices that can be used to flavor the wine, and there is no restriction on the amount of wine that can be used to flavor the beverage. Natural dyes are occasionally used to make the beverage appear more vibrant in color.
Sweet Vermouths combine nicely with sweets, whilst dry Vermouths are great for creating delectable wine cocktails.
But, more importantly, what wine should you serve with your dessert?
Baked Leavened Sweets
Sugary treats that are leavened are commonly offered as desserts and are popular all over the world. In this category, we can include sponge cakes, brioches, Savarins, baked doughnuts, and any other leavened baked delicacies that are prepared using leavening agents. With these delicacies, the ideal wines to match with them are soft sparkling wines with low alcoholic contents, such as sparkling Riesling or sparkling Champagne.
Desserts such as fried doughnuts, pancakes, churros, and fried pastries match nicely with dessert wines such as sweet white wines.
A still wine with a highly fragrant scent as well as a rich and mellow flavor, such as Ramandolo or Gewürztraminer wine, should be used in this recipe.
Often filled with candied or dry fruits such as pistachios and almonds, dried sweets are formed of puff pastry or cookie dough and baked to a crisp before being served. Shortbread biscuits and other biscuit-like desserts are also included in this category. With fortified or aromatized wines, dried sweets are a great pairing. This sort of dessert can be served with a variety of wines including Moscato d’Asti Passito, Vin Santo, Porto, Marsala, or Vermouth.
Desserts With Fillings
There are several of the desserts stated above that include fillings, and in this situation, the guidelines that were previously given may not apply. In this scenario, it is preferable to serve the wine alongside the filling rather than the dough. Here’s how it’s done:
- Filled with jam or cream, these desserts match nicely with medium-soft sweet wines such as Muscat, Müller-Thurgau, or Riesling wines. Fresh fruit: Fresh fruit fillings can be found in pies and sponge cakes, among other baked goods. In this situation, sweet white wines with powerful scents, such as white raisin wines, are the ideal option. Make certain that the scent of the wine is fruity and powerful. Rubino d’Acqui is a sweet and extremely fragrant red wine that pairs well with red fruit fillings such as raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, and other red fruit fillings. Rubino d’Acqui is a sweet and highly fragrant red wine that pairs well with rubino d’Acqui. A slightly sparkling sweet white wine, such as Rappu di Rogliano, should accompany white fruit fillings such as apples, pears, bananas, and other types of white fruit fillings. When combined with the filling, the effervescence and aroma of these wines create a wonderful contrast.
With the delicious body and powerful scents of white raisin wines, almond cookies, macaron, marzipan, and other sweets prepared with almond flour go together like peanut butter and jelly on toast. Choose a raisin wine that has a substantial body and powerful structure, such as Albana di Romagna, for this dish to be successful.
Choux pastries and éclairs match nicely with flavorful red wines as well as fortified wines, according to the experts. To make your dessert stand out, serve it with a bottle of Banyuls to accompany the chocolate-filled choux pastry. A sweet and aromatic wine such as a semi-dry Marsala would undoubtedly do honor to your dessert selection, especially if the pastries are filled with vanilla creams or whipped cream.
Mignon pastries are typically filled with fruits or creams, but regardless of the filling, they combine nicely with sweet, aromatic wines such as Vin Santo, which has a strong floral aroma.
To drink with fortified wines, try any of the soufflés. Soufflés made with lemon, vanilla, and candied fruits pair nicely with a white fortified wine such as Marsala Oro or Marsala Ambra. Pairing chocolate and liqueur soufflés with red fortified wines brings out the best in them.
Pancakes And Crepes
Pancakes and crepes are quick and simple to prepare, and they are enjoyed by everyone. They can be stuffed with whipped cream or covered with sauces and syrups to make them more interesting. Whichever you choose, the particular flavor of the dough works beautifully with sweet and not overly aromatic wines, such as Alsace Gewürztraminer.
Ice Creams And Sorbets
It has been decades since sommeliers recommended against serving ice cream with wine. The impression of the wine is altered by the cold sweets, therefore their claim has a good foundation. Nonetheless, if you pick your wine carefully, you may put together a winning blend of flavors. Ice cream made with vanilla or hazelnut flavoring goes well with sweet Muscat wine. Raisin wines increase the flavor of ice creams and sorbets made with pistachio, chocolate, and strawberry flavors. Tokaji wines and ice wines go exceptionally well with eggnog and almond ice creams, among other things.
Creams And Puddings
Tempting desserts like crème caramel, crème brulee, or Bavarian cream go beautifully with crisp white wines like Muscat de Rivesaltes. Choosing the greatest dessert wines for your last course isn’t rocket science, but it is something that you should get familiar with if you want to wow your dinner guests. Because of this, you can forget about combining your decadent chocolate cake with that dry Prosecco you’ve been saving for special occasions. Instead, follow the recommendations in the guide above and pair your sweets with the greatest dessert wines available, which will improve their flavor and ensure that your meal is a success.
After all, it’s preferable to stick to coffee rather than serving your desserts with an inappropriate wine pairing. Good luck with your meal!
How Sweet It Is: A Guide to Dessert Wine
An absolutely beautiful way to conclude a dinner. Because dessert wines are such a broad category, it is likely that you haven’t yet discovered the kind that suits your tastes and preferences. Sipping a dessert wine while enjoying a creamy flan, a slice of dark chocolate cake, or a cheese board is a fantastic way to end a dinner in the evening. Alternatively, skip dessert altogether and close the dinner on a sweet note with glasses of sauternes, ice wine, or port instead.
Dessert Wine Basics
It should come as no surprise that all dessert wines begin with grapes that have a high concentration of natural sugar. When that natural sugar is transformed into alcohol during the fermentation process, the wine is referred to be “dry.” Wines that have had all of the natural sugar fermented out of them are referred to as “sweet.” In the case of dessert wines, winemakers halt the fermentation process early in order to preserve the natural sweetness. Depending on the grape variety, dessert wines can range from a little hint of sweetness to a full-on sugar-bomb in terms of sweetness.
Sparkling Dessert Wine
If you’re looking for something light, sweet, and delicate, sparkling dessert wines are the way to go. The bubbles in these wines, which are light, effervescent, and often low in alcohol, make them joyful and enjoyable to drink at any time of day. Look for sweet sparkling wines derived from grapes such as muscat, brachetto, riesling, or torrontes. When served with fresh fruit desserts such as an Orange and Yogurt Tart or a simple Fruit Platter with Whipped Ricotta, these wines are perfect for brunch.
Concentrated, Rich Dessert Wine
There are a few of different techniques for creating these exceptionally rich wines. Prior to crushing the grapes, procedures are performed to concentrate the sugar content of the grapes using any of the several ways. One method is to create a late-harvest wine, which involves keeping the grapes on the vine for as long as possible into the growing season in order to get maximum sugar levels, sometimes even until the first frost has arrived (known as ice wine). It is also possible to make wine using the passito process, in which grapes are dried on straw mats, resulting in delicious raisins that are then fermented into wine.
Toutes of these exquisite dessert wines have an opulent, thick texture with complex aromas of honey, marmalade, and spices to complement them.
Dried Dates and Blue Cheese or Blue Cheese Gougeres with Caramel and Salt are two traditional pairings that you should try out.
Fortified wines are typically between 18 and 20 percent alcohol by volume, making them ideal for keeping warm throughout the harsh winter months.
Ruby port, which has more dark, rich fruit to it and is a popular combination with chocolate truffles, whereas tawny port, which has more butterscotch, caramel, and nutty overtones, is a more recent addition to the family of port varieties. Try pairing a tawny port with a cheese plate for an after-dinner feast that will be remembered!
Sherry is a fortified wine produced in the Spanish region of Andaluca, on the country’s southern coast. The first crucial thing to know about sherry is that it ranges from bone-dry and delicate to crazily rich and syrupy, depending on the variety. For dessert, search for sherries in the following three types: cream, moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez. While dry varieties like as fino and Amontillado are popular as aperitifs and are making a reappearance on bar menus as the foundation for cocktails, dessert sherries should be sweet (PX).
PX sherry may be served over ice cream, and cream style sherries pair well with custard-based sweets such as flan or crème caramel, which are both popular in Spain.
Madeira is a fortified wine that was called for the island where it was produced, which is approximately four hundred kilometers off the coast of North Africa. From the fifteenth through the seventeenth century, the island of Madeira served as a port of call for ships sailing to the New World and the East Indian Ocean. The early Madeiras were produced as a wine that could withstand travel: brandy was frequently added to the barrels to keep the wine from deteriorating during the journey. The tremendous heat from travelling around the equator, along with the continual movement of the ships, resulted in the wine becoming organically concentrated and oxidized.
The fact that Madeira has previously been effectively “cooked” means that it is famed for never spoiling: there is Madeira from the late 18th century that is still wonderfully palatable today.
Sticky moments: great sweet wines to savour
Late Harvest Ortega from Biddenden Vineyards in Kent, England (2018) (£122; biddendenvineyards.com). “Is that really one hundred and twenty-two pounds for a bottle of English wine?” When a mouthful of said wine is being spewed in incredulous wrath to all ends of the room, it’s easy to envision someone asking, “You what mate?” It’s a question that comes to mind. I’m not going to be sidetracked by questions of worth or justice in this discussion. All that has to be said is that once you pass a certain threshold (about £25), there is really little logic to the cost of wine.
However, this does not rule out the possibility that a bottle of wine may be worth that much to someone.
It is worth mentioning that I had the opportunity to taste Bidden’s Kentish dessert wine, made from their speciality vineyard grape variety Ortega, before I knew how much the bottle would cost.
Weingut Joh Jos.
Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett, Mosel, Germany 2018 (from £26.95, corneyandbarrow.com; bbr.com; howardripley.com) Part of the appeal of the Biddenden Ortega for me is that it provides some evidence to support a long-held conviction of mine: that the United Kingdom has even greater potential for relatively delicate (the Biddenden has only 10 percent alcohol by volume) sweet wines in the German style than it does for champagne-alikes in the United States.
As a result, I can see why most ambitious English winemakers are sticking with fizz instead of sweet wines.
In spite of this, if I were to start my own English venture, I would be tempted to follow the German model, planting riesling and aiming to take advantage of the cool English climate to produce wines with the filigree detail, steel-thread acidity, and cushion of sweet exotic fruit that you find in a classic old school, semi-sweet kabinett riesling from the Mosel Valley, such as Weingut Joh Jos.
If you compare it to Biddenden’s riesling or Prüm’s riesling kabinett, this is a considerably richer, thicker, more golden, and viscous form of sweet wine.
Stunning results can be achieved, with notes of marmalade and toffee, as well as cystallised fruits – all of which can be found in the benchmark example stocked by the upscale northern supermarket Booths; in the flat-out gorgeous, incredible value, multi-vintage blend Ulysse Sauternes (£9.95, 37.5cl, thewinesociety.com); and in the slightly less intense but still delicious Tesco Finest Sauternes 2018 (£12, 3 David Williams may be followed on Twitter at @Daveydaibach.
Excellent Sweet Wines for Beginners
There are numerous good sweet wines for novices, like Moscato and Sauternes, which are also terrific choices. Find out which high-quality white wines to try if you enjoy dessert wines and which ones to avoid. You are not alone if your first sip of wine did not taste quite the way you anticipated it to. Despite the fact that it is made from grapes, that lovely beverage is nothing like grape juice. Even yet, various wines appeal to different palates in different ways. Some wine enthusiasts favor dry wines, but others prefer lighter, sweeter wines, and vice versa.
Pop a Bottle of Riesling
Wine made from the grape Riesling can be either dry or sweet. Ensure that you double-check with your server or read the label to determine if you want the sweet or semi-sweet version. This light and lemony white wine, which is commonly served effervescent, is often sweetened with fruit such as apples, peaches, pears, and apricots. Pro Tip: If you want your Riesling to be particularly sweet, go for a bottle from the Late Harvest—these will please any sweet craving!
Have a Moscato d’Asti
Because it is a dessert wine, Moscato is a great sweet wine for novices to try. Winemakers occasionally use apricots and almonds to flavor this Italian type, as well as peach or other fruity tastes on rare occasions. It has a tiny fizz to it and is unquestionably the sweetest wine available.
Get a Glass of Sauternes
Sauternes is made from Sémillon wine grapes that have been afflicted by noble rot after they have been harvested late. Noble rot is a form of fungus that can only be found in specific conditions and causes grapes to shrivel. Vintners have only been making wine from rotting grapes since the 17th century, according to historical records. In modern times, Sauternes is frequently served with dessert fruits and cheeses. It has a butterscotch, caramel, mango, and marmalade flavor to it, as well as hints of citrus and ginger in it.
Drink Demi-Sec Champagne
If you want something with a bit extra fizz, opt for a sparkling wine. Demi-Sec Champagne contains between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per liter of champagne. Next to Champagne Doux, which is defined as any sparkling wine containing more than 50 grams of sugar, it is the sweetest level available. True champagne is produced in France’s Champagne area from a blend of wine grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and is named after the place in which it is produced. Our extensive selection of high-quality white wines is ideal if you are just beginning your wine-drinking journey and would want to start with something sweet.