An Oft-Ignored Wine Style: Dessert Wines Deserve Some Respect

Dessert wines open the door to a rich and diverse landscape. With a multitude of flavors and styles, there’s plenty for wine novices to explore. They don’t always get their due these days. These wines are crafted to be sweet and indulgent, often with higher alcohol content, making them a perfect choice for after-dinner enjoyment or pairing with desserts. You can even use them as an aperitif. Don’t’s forget this categoria dulce when you order wine online. . . .

That’s because dessert wines come in a wide range of styles, from the honeyed richness of Sauternes to the florally aromatic elegance of Muscat. Each style offers a unique tasting experience; flavors and aromas may range from ripe fruits and honey to caramel and spices.

Pairing dessert wines with desserts is a delightful way to enhance the flavors of both. The sweetness of the wine can complement the sweetness of the dessert, creating a harmonious and memorable pairing. Many dessert wines also have excellent aging potential, with some developing complex flavors and aromas over time, adding depth and richness.

Some Dessert Wines to Consider: It’s a Diverse World

The wide range of styles and flavors of these more sugry delicaices provide a unique tasting experience. Here are some of the main categories of dessert wines:

Late harvest wines are made from grapes left on the vine longer than for dry wines, allowing them to become overripe and concentrate their sugars. This results in sweet, rich wines with flavors of honey, dried fruits, and caramel. Examples include late harvest Riesling and late harvest Zinfandel. A prime example is the 2019 Bella Late Harvest Zinfandel from right here in Sonoma County, home of the best wine store USA. Those grapes had plenty of sugar, resulting in both sweetness and 14.8% alcohol!

Brrrrr. Ice wines are made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. This concentrates their sugars and flavors. It’s no easy wine to make. The grapes are harvested and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a sweet, intense wine with flavors of honey, apricot, and peach. Ice wine is produced in regions with cold winters, such as Canada and Germany.

Botrytized wines are typified by Sauternes from Bordeaux, but there are many other appellations making them. They come from grapes that have been affected by the “noble rot” fungus. This causes the grapes to shrivel and concentrate their sugars, resulting in a sweet wine with complex flavors of honey, apricot, and orange peel. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the fungus!

Fortified wines may be dry or sweet. Sweet versions like Port and many Sherries, have a distilled spirit, usually fine brandy, added during winemaking. This stops the fermentation process and leaves residual sugar in the wine, resulting in a sweet yet high-alcohol product. No better example exists than the 2018 Sandeman Vintage Port. Wine Advocate said: “There is a serious backbone supporting the fruit and a big finish with appropriate grip and length. A day or two after it was opened, it was more vigorous and powerful than ever.” Ports are typically rich and full-bodied, with flavors of dark fruit and chocolate, while Sherries can range from dry to sweet, with nutty and caramel notes.

Vin Santo is a distinctive (and expensive) Italian dessert wine made from grapes that have been dried, similar to the process used to make Amarone wines. Bottle Barn has, for example, the 2012 Giacomo Mori Vinsanto del Chianti and the 2010 Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano, two renowned regions. The grapes are pressed and then aged in small barrels, resulting in a sweet wine with flavors of dried fruits, nuts, and honey.

Muscat-based wines, such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from France or Moscato d'Asti from Italy, are known for their floral aromas and sweet, fruity flavors. Muscat is a among the most aromatic of the  aromatic grape varieties that include Torrontes and Gewutrztraminer. These wines are often lower in alcohol and are best enjoyed young and fresh. When you go to order wine online, think about the 2023 Elio Perrone Moscato d'Asti Sourgal. Wine Enthusiast calls it “superpretty.” “Jasmine, apricot, white tea, and wild herbs captivate the nose right” while “expressive peach and white flower flavors giving way to electric acidity keeping the palate fresh.”

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