I recently came across a fantastic article on dessert wine written by Joe Roberts, a certified wine specialist and the author of 1WineDude. The article was published in Nov. 2014 on Fix.com’s blog. I greatly appreciate Fix.com’s outreach, which led to my finding the article. Fix.com’s blog covers everything in and around your home, including exercise, gardening, outdoor activities, cooking, home maintenance, repairs and wine.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of articles on winter-friendly wines like mulled wine. But I’ve never put all the different winter-friendly wines into a single article. Roberts’s article on dessert wine does just that. In his fantastic infographic, which follows, you get to know Port, Madeira, Tokaji, Doux Sparkling Wine, and Ice Wine.
Roberts describes port as packing “a warming alcoholic sensation with every sip: just the thing for warming you up on cold winter nights. While there are many styles of Port, the two most common are Tawny and Ruby… Tawny Port spends extended time barrel-aging, taking on flavors of toasted nuts, caramel, and dried fruits – think pecan pie and you’ll get the picture. Ruby Ports emphasize the fresher dark berry fruit flavors of the grapes, and are a great match for hearty holiday desserts made with chocolate.”
This fortified wine originated on the Portuguese island of Madeira where it was heat treated to withstand long journeys overseas. According to Roberts, the wine is “redolent with dried fruit, Sherry-like notes, toast, nuts, and toffee, which naturally conjures up images of winter desserts. As with Port, the fortification process raises the alcohol level of Madeira to about 20 percent, so it also does admirable duty as a winter warmer.”
“Tokaji production relies on a special fungus called botrytis that affects the grapes and turns them into raisins while still on the vine… While there are a few styles of Tokaji, the most well-known is Aszú, which has explosive flavors of sweet apricot, coffee, orange rind, citrus zest, and golden raisins. It’s most impressive feature, however, might be its vibrant, lip-smacking acidity, which helps it hold its own not only as an aperitif, but also as a match for desserts of nearly all kinds.”
Doux Sparkling Wines
“Doux sparkling wines are a sweet style of bubbly. While almost all sparkling wine has some small amount of sugar added to help balance its racy, piquant acidity, Doux sparkling wines ratchet that up a notch, adding over five percent sugar by volume. At that level, the sweetness is noticeable above the vibrant acid and drying bubbles, imparting a richer mouth feel than styles made with less sugar. With Doux sparkling wines (particularly the better examples from France, the U.S., and Italy), you get the apple and pear fruitiness, floral aromas, and hints of toast that are part of the drier sparkling wine bottlings, as well as sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth.”
Ice wine is wine made from frozen grapes. Roberts describes Ice Wine as “sweet wines that are intense, but also have a vibrant mouth feel that isn’t overly cloying. With the best ice wines, you’ll get citrus, stone fruit, and candy aromas and flavors that are focused, intense, fresh, and pure. This all comes with ice wine’s bright acidity, which helps it feel refreshing despite the high concentrations of sugar.”
Celebrating Winter with Dessert Wine
This winter, see if you can try all of these dessert wines. The one I’m going to make sure to try is the Doux Sparkling Wine, since I’ve never tried it before. I’d love to hear your experiences with dessert wine and your thoughts about why dessert wine makes such great winter wine.
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