I’ve never met one of these I liked
I’ve never met a dessert wine I liked, though I admit I haven’t given the typically sweet wines much chance lately. Part of this bias springs from the flat-out unattractive names given dessert wines around the world: “stickies” in Australia (sounds too cute) or “pudding wines” in the U.K. (ick).
But the real truth is that dessert wines are a confusing lot. In the U.K., for example, dessert wines are labeled as any sweet wine drunk with a meal. Fortified wines, on the other hand (like sherry), get drunk before a meal (yet are quite sweet), and ports, a red fortified wine, get served post-meal.
Who can keep up?
The reality is that sweet wine is classified according to the types of grapes used, level of alcohol content, and color and flavor. Classifications, however, vary from region to region. In the U.S., wines with 14 percent alcohol content is considered dessert wine.
One unifying trait is that, generally everywhere, dessert wine is considered to be the sweetest wine of all. Usually a dessert wine is not fortified, but it does have a higher alcohol and sugar content than other sweet wines. The reality is that some dessert wines can be almost as sweet and thick as molasses.
So let’s say you want to tip your toes into the pool of these precious vinos. “Starter dessert wines” might include a Moscata d’Asti, Champagne or a fortified wine. Moscato d’Asti is an Italian, fizzy white wine, low in alcohol and made from the Muscat grape. It’s refreshing and simple.
Martini & Rossi’s Asti Spumante (can you say sooo 1980s?) is a drinkable sparkling sweet wine with lots of bubbles, and Ports are fortified wines that appeal to those that enjoy a Brandy-like after- dinner drink.
Perhaps the key to enjoying an excellent dessert wine is in the selection of an excellent dessert. If that’s the tact one takes, common sense dictates pairing light with light, rich with rich. If it’s the berries you’re enjoying after a meal, add a bit of Champagne for a final touch. The German chocolate cake you couldn’t say no to? Try a fortified wine with heft.
Or you could do what I do: get the superlarge slice of German chocolate cake and a decaf coffee with a shot of Nocino – and call it day. Talk about the 1980’s.
Word o’ the Week
Amontillado – a variety of sherry named for the Montilla region of Spain. Amontillado contains 13.5% alcohol and originated in the 18th century.
One Winning Wine Tasting
Poggerino Estates hosts a wine tasting on March 5, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Incredible Wine and Spirits, 5060 S. Syracuse St. in Denver.
Piero Lanza, oenologist and agronomist at Poggerino Estates, will discuss organic and biodynamic vineyard management. Lanza will present Poggerino’s Rosato “Aurora”, the 2007 Chianti Classico, and Piero’s Super Tuscan beauty, “Primateria”, a 50/50 blend of Poggerino’s Sangiovese with Merlot. The event offers attendees a glimpse into Lanza’s passion and knowledge about wine and viticulture.
For further information call 303.488.wine.