Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Desserty" Wine Basics

In an addendum to my One Page Red Wine recommendation, here's a short primer on Sweet Desert Wines.  Several people asked me about my recommendations at Thanksgiving, and I've been remiss on catching up on blog postings this month.

To accompany Sweet Sweet Sweet deserts, some people prefer to have a very sweet wine. From an upper level view, you cannot go wrong with the following matches:

- a Port. Ports are also very very sweet. Some are syrupy. There's TONS of alcohol in a port.. 50% more than normal wines.. so pour small glasses. A true Portuguese Port will run you close to $20 or more (some up to 4X or 10X  that)... other port knock offs (which are almost as good) are down in the $15 dollar range. Avoid any port less than $10, as it will likely be cough syrup.

- a Riesling. Germans make sweet wines in the Rhine valley (close to France!) There's tons of good Rieslings for less than $15.  Anything under 5 or 6 dollars for a Riesling might be nasty.

- A Beaujolais (refer to my one page wine list link earlier). An inexpensive French Beaujolais will run you about $9 or $10. You might find Beaujolais Nouveaux... which will be really really sweet, and very "young" (aged only a few weeks in the barrles) in stores in the US from November to the Spring (uncorking after 11/11).  It's more like grape juice, but some people love it.  the Beaujolais Region runs roughly north of Villefranche Sur Saone, up to Macon - incredibly beautifully rural country.

- A rosé from Provence or Languedoc (French). Rosés are typically sweeter and go well on a hot afternoon with wine and cheese, or as a deserty compliment to cheese cake and pies. The rosé have pinkish color / rosey bottles... a Provencial or Languedoc rose will run you around $10.. and I think you'll really like it, if you want a sweeter wine. 

- A Sauternes. This is not cheap - but if a rich relative is coming and buying for you, tell them "please bring a Sauternes" (pronounced Saw-Turn). http://www.winegeeks.com/vintage_charts/sauternes
This is deliciously sweet... amazing complexity and depth... to be sipped and enjoyed leisurely. It is a fantastic desert wine. The last bottle I had cost me $40, and I fed it to my wife's grad school friends at an Easter dinner for dessert about 5 years ago. It was fantastique. If price is no object, go with a Sauternes. (I got mine from a co-worker who was trying to liquidate his wine collection before he had to relocate to the UK).

If you have a sweet wine favorite I have not included here, please feel free to comment, and I will amend the list as warranted.

En santé!

1 comment:

  1. I think you mean dessert wines, although at first I was curious to hear about local vineyards.

    Some comments:
    Port does not have to be all that sweet. Tawny ports (10y or older) tend to be less sweet than ruby port or generic port. Late-bottled vintage can be a mixed bag -- at best fantastic value for money. True vintage can be very expensive but also beyond belief. Or, of course, a waste of money. I think a decent brand of 10-yr tawny is usually the best bet.

    Rieslings: some reislings are not at all sweet, especially, I find, the ones from the french side of Alsace. They can be quite spicey and floral and better as a starter or with food than dessert. But the Germans do seem to do the sweeter rieslings quite well. If you want to go for the full dessert experience with this grape, go for a Late Harvest Riesling.


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