While most people have a sweet tooth, to some the idea of a sweet wine just seems wrong. After all, dessert wines paired with a dessert can be disaster if the wine resembles a cheap wine cooler or the wine isn’t just a bit sweeter than the dessert.
A wine with less sweetness than the food will make it seem bitter, so make sure it’s at least a bit sweeter than the dessert to allow all of the flavors to mingle and shine and freshen your palate.
Here are 3 of the most delicious dessert wines you can experiment with this year.
Magnotta Riesling Ice Wine 2002
Ice wines, first made in Germany in the 18th century, are produced by allowing the grapes to freeze naturally on the vine, which concentrates the flavor, acid and, of course, the sugar.
This Riesling ice wine, produced in Canada’s Niagara Peninsula, has a rich brownish color with sweet notes of pear, apple and caramel much like cider. It’s full bodied with strong flavors of lemons, figs and apples and a long lemon finish.
It’s incredibly sweet with a strong acidity so it pairs well with just about any dessert, even the richest pecan pie or cake.
This Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from the southwestern area France is very aromatic with a light golden color. Interestingly, if you drink it alone, it will taste very grassy although it takes on rich flavors of caramel, honey and coconut when combined with a sweet dessert.
While it’s from an off-year, it’s surprisingly sweet and flavorful with a great deal of botrytis on the nose and an affordable price tag. The main ingredient is Sauternes and it’s also a great way to get an introduction Sauternes without spending too much money.
2001 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling Nahe Munsterer Pittersberg Eiswein
This ice wine is produced in the still somewhat obscure Nahe region of Germany by a great up-and-coming winemaker.
The wine itself isn’t cheap but it’s a great value and pairs wonderfully with ice cream, among other things. It has strong aromas of exotic flowers with flavors of apricot and beach and a strong acidity that cleanses your palate for seconds — or thirds.
Tips for Pairing Dessert Wines
If you’re going to pair the wine with pie during the holidays, remember that white wines that have been aged work best with pie while a young and fruity wine with berry notes will overpower the pie.
Save these for chocolate-based treats. You want a wine with strong acidity that makes your mouth water and keeps your palate fresh, which means the strong sugars and flavors won’t get overwhelming.
While ice wines are a great option for most desserts, don’t be afraid to experiment and try noble rot wines, which are produced from grapes with the mold botrytis cinerea, which works to remove the water from the grapes and concentrate the sugar content.
You may even want to try a raisin wine, which is made when the winemaker allows grapes to air dry to reduce water content.