The sweet flavors and unique creation of dessert and fortified wines make these a great treat. However, these types of wines generally don't make a great everyday option. Fortified wines often have a higher alcohol content than other wines. In addition, both fortified and dessert wines are usually quite sweet. While all fortified wines have added alcohol in their creation, not all dessert wines do.
Types and Flavors of Dessert and Fortified Wine:
Fortified wine is made by adding a neutral liquor such as brandy and is either sweet or dry. The sweetness varies depending on what is used to fortify the wine, as well as when it's added during the process. When the additional alcohol is added before the wine ferments, it ends up a sweet drink. You get a dry wine when you fortify after fermentation.
There are many different types of fortified wine. Some of the most popular include Madeira, sherry, port and Marsala. Frequently, these are used in cooking to help enhance the flavor of food.
Dessert wine is always sweet, but the level of sweetness varies. Generally, dessert wines aren't made with added alcohol. Even if you have the ultimate sweet tooth, you'll likely find that dessert wine is too much.
You'll find a huge variety of dessert wines, allowing you to choose exactly what you're looking for. Ice wine offers a unique balance of high acidity and sweetness. Moscato d'Asti offers bright, luscious flavors and a sweetness that is enjoyable. You'll also find Riesling, muscat, and Tokajo listed as dessert wines.
Food Pairings with Dessert and Fortified Wine:
Pairing your dessert wine is a daunting task. This is simply because of the variety of flavors, sweetness and acidity in the wine. Your wine should be at least as sweet as the dessert you eat with it, though a good acidity balance is important. For example, if you're having a Greek yogurt panna cotta with honey-glazed fruit, consider pairing it with an orange muscat. Desserts featuring apples or peaches can be paired with an ice wine.
Fortified wines can be paired with several food options and are often used for cooking. For example, Port works well with cheddar cheese, nuts and chocolate. Sherry's flavor works well with blue cheese or smoked salmon. Marsala is often found in dishes featuring chicken, and it also works well with goat cheese and olives. If you're eating fontina cheese, mushrooms or poultry, consider Madeira.