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You should never regret dessert. The same goes for dessert wine. That's good because, with hundreds of options, you can try lots of deliciously sweet wines. There are a few basic winemaking techniques that define dessert wines. Let that knowledge help guide your choice. While most are sweet, there are some classic dessert wines made in a dry style. Set aside the cake, pie or ice cream and take your after-dinner indulgence to a whole new level with dessert wine.
Meet Three Styles of Dessert Wine:
- Late Harvest: A technique potentially discovered b lazy farmers — just leave the grapes on the vine for longer than normal. Grapes concentrate with more sugars the longer they ripen, meaning almost any wine can be made in this style. Ice Wine and Noble Rot are among several winemaking techniques that result from this late harvest style.
- Fortified: Adding spirits, typically neutral-tasting brandy, to the wine prevents it from fermenting and preserves the sugars. And it also adds a bunch of alcohol, if that's your thing.
- Dried Grape: Traditionally used in Italy and Greece, grapes are laid out and dried after harvest. Dehydrating the grapes concentrates the sugars, leading to a sweet wine with clean, vibrant flavors.
Sparkling Dessert Wine:
Bubbles aren't just for brunch! Give your meal a bubbly finish with your pick of sparkling dessert wines. Most taste sweeter than they are, thanks to the extra acidity and plenty of bubbles. Try an Italian Spumante, a French Vins Mousseux or a Spanish Cava to add a hint of sparkle to your meal.
Lightly Sweet Dessert Wine:
Prefer only a subtly sweet finish to your meal? Our lightly sweet dessert wines ought to do the trick. Most of these are white wines packed with fruity aromas, such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chemin Blanc. Serve them chilled and enjoy the flavors on a hot day.
Richly Sweet Dessert Wine:
For an after-dinner beverage that can withstand the test of time, take your pick from some of the best richly sweet dessert wines. Rare Ice Wines, super sweet late harvest wines and gingery Noble Rot wines are known for their complex tastes and advanced age, sometimes up to 50 years.
Sweet Red Wine:
The best varieties of sweet red wine come from Italy, where they're made with some of the most fruity and aromatic grapes. Try a glass of bubbly Lambrusco with hints of blueberry, some floral-tinged Brachetto d'Aqui or a cherry-flavored Freisa. Note that these historically important varieties are known for having the best taste. However, there's no shame in trying a few more affordable bottles of sweet red wine and embracing your love of the sweet stuff.
Who doesn't want a vibrantly fruity finish to a meal? Fortified wines run the gamut from dry to sweet, but they have two things in common, a rich, fruity flavor and a higher alcohol content, thanks to the grape brandy that's added to this type of wine. The most popular types of fortified wine include Port, Madeira and Sherry, which hail from Portugal and Spain.
Food Pairings for Dessert Wine:
Dessert would be the obvious choice. But there's a time and place for eating pie for breakfast. So we're not going to tell you how to live your life. A cheese course to end the meal can also be a fantastic pairing with these delicious wines.