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Dessert Wine

dessert wine   Notes:   These are sweet wines that are served with (or instead of) dessert.   Examples include fortified wines like port and sherry, and late harvest wines, which are made from grapes that have shriveled a bit, concentrating their sweetness.  As a rule of thumb, a dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert it accompanies.     Substitutes:   sparkling wine OR liqueur OR coffee (This is another beverage traditionally served with dessert.)


Banyuls   Pronunciation:    bahn-YOOLZ   Notes:   This is a red dessert wine that's produced in France.  It's one of the few wines that's good with chocolate.  Notes:   Port OR black muscat wine OR porter ale (also tastes good with chocolate)


black muscat wine  Notes:  This is a late harvest dessert wine made with black muscat grapes and sometimes fortified with brandy.  Unlike many dessert wines, it goes well with chocolate.  Notes:  Banyuls OR Port OR porter ale (also tastes good with chocolate)


late harvest wine   Notes:   These pricey wines are produced from grapes that are picked late in the season, after they've shriveled a bit on the vine.  This concentrates the sugar and allows producers to turn the grapes into sweet, rich dessert wines.  Some of the best late harvest wines are made from grapes that have become moldy with the Botrytis cinerea fungus (also known as "noble rot").  The fungus pokes holes in the grape skins, allowing more water to evaporate.  Ice wine = icewine = eiswein is an especially sweet and expensive kind of late harvest wine in which the dehydrated grapes are allowed to freeze on the vine, resulting in a very sweet wine.  These and other late harvest wines are often sold in half-bottles, and are best drunk by themselves or with fruit or light desserts.  Don't serve them with chocolate or very sweet desserts. 

Muscat = Moscatel = Muscatel = Muscadel = Moscato    Notes:   This is a sweet and fruity dessert wine made from Muscat grapes.  Don't confuse it with Muscadet, which is a dry white wine.   Substitutes:   port OR Riesling OR Gewürztraminer OR 1C = 1/2 C white wine + 1/2 C water + 1/3 C sugar.


Sauternes   Pronunciation:   so-TERN   Notes:   Sauternes is a district in France that produces exquisite and expensive white dessert wines.  The district includes the commune Barsac, which produces some of the best Sauternes.  Sauternes are sweet and are delicious with blue cheese, pâté de foie gras, and light desserts, though they should never be served with chocolate.  Don't confuse Sauternes with Sauterne, which is a cheap domestic imitation.  Substitutes:  dessert wine.

Tokaj wine = Tokay wine    Pronunciation:  toe-KAY   Notes:    Ordinary Tokay table wine is mediocre, but some Tokay grapes are affected by Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that pokes holes in their skins and makes them shrivel on the vine.  This concentrates the sweetness and makes for an exquisite dessert wine.  Look for bottles labeled Tokay Aszú, the Hungarian name for botrytised Tokay wine.

Copyright © 1996-2005   Lori Alden