With so many different types of wine available, finding the perfect bottle to pair with your meal can be quite intimidating. Luckily, there is a common rule of thumb that simplifies the process. This unwritten rule states that your meal should never be sweeter than the wine you’re drinking with it. But what if you’d like to enjoy a glass of wine with a piece of cake or pie after your meal? This is why dessert wines exist – to accompany and complement sweet treats.
Dessert wines offer a simple and delicious way to complete your meal, and some can be enjoyed in as small as a 3-ounce pour. Plus, with many different varietals available, there are plenty of options to fit your taste.
When searching for the perfect dessert wine, it’s important to remember that a bottle’s sweetness is described using specific terminology. The English terms include dry, medium-dry or off-dry, medium or semi-sweet, and sweet. French wines, on the other hand, are categorized as demi-sec, semi-seco, doux, and dulce, with the latter being the sweetest.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of dessert wines so that you can make the best choice for your next meal.
Sparkling wines are traditionally fermented twice – once to create the alcohol, and another to form carbon dioxide. When done in the bottle, this method is known as méthode champenoise. Other than champagne, of course, some common varieties of sparkling dessert wine include demi-sec and doux sparkling wine, sweeter Cava (such as Gran Reserva), and Brachetto d’Aqui. These wines pair well with fruit-based desserts (such as tarts or crepes) and shortbread cookies.
Botrytis Cinerea is a mold that grows on grapes in certain conditions, which causes the affected grape to shrink and dehydrate. This gives the fruit a higher sugar content and can also add a certain flavor to the wine, including aromas of honey. Some common wines that are made from Noble Rot grapes include Hungarian Tokaji and Sauternes from Bordeaux. Noble Rot wines are best paired with cream and custard-based desserts.
Ice wine, also known as eiswine, is a dessert varietal created from grapes that have been left on the vine while frozen. The sugars become concentrated and the resulting wine is slightly viscous and very sweet. Due to this anomaly, ice wine is somewhat rare and quite delicious. However, be on the lookout for wines made with commercially frozen grapes; this is not true ice wine and is not allowed in the United States. Genuine bottles will include an ice wine label. Ice wine pairs well with fruity desserts as well as chocolate-based sweets.
Some dessert wines have alcohol added to them – a traditional method that dates back centuries. The alcohol, usually a distilled and neutral grape brandy, prevents the yeast from consuming all of the sugar content. The final result is a strong and sweet wine. Some popular examples of fortified wines include Port, Madeira, Vermouth, and Sherry. Try pairing your fortified wine of choice with a slice of rich chocolate cake.
Late Harvest wine is produced from grapes that have been left on the vine for a longer period of time, past their top period of ripeness. Because of this, the grape becomes dehydrated, and the sugar and alcohol content increases. Muscat (also known as Moscato), Vidal, and Riesling are some of the most popular types of late harvest wine. These wines are delicious when enjoyed alongside citrus-based desserts like lemon cream pie.
Looking for the perfect dessert wines to add to your collection? Cellaraiders can help. Our catalog includes a wide variety of dessert wines, including Gran Reserva, Madeira, and more. For more information about our current offerings, contact us today!