The holidays mean two things: comfort and celebration. Colder nights call out for the warmth within traditional winter feasting, in turn demanding a fine wine to elevate the occasion. This holiday season, every wine should count. Please don’t waste the chance to double down on as much festive cheer as one can muster with an inferior bottle. Let’s explore some of this year’s best wines for holiday season, from serious reds to superb whites by way of a sparkling toast.
Moments of note, festive gatherings, aperitives, and “just because”: the time to put a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine on ice is right now!
A classic choice that gives the impression of rarity is a Gosset Grande Reserve – not only for its signature bottle shape. The oldest Champagne house, Gosset’s style is “subtle and refined”: a blend of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier from several different villages, the wine was aged for at least three years. Its aroma is delicately floral, with a complex, rounded taste.
To grace the table during holiday get-togethers, a classic and decadent offering would be a Bordeaux wine. Some of the world’s most reputed chateaux hail from this fêted part of southwest France, with its highly varied soil producing great varieties among its wines.
From its Right Bank, a Saint Emilion brings grandeur to a holiday occasion. This appellation produces wines that are Merlot heavy, blended with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. A great choice is Chateau Fombrauge’s 2016 vintage. This grand cru blends 93% Merlot with 7% Cabernet Franc and has been aged for 18 months in three different ways, leaving a medium- to full-bodied sip, with black cherry and plum accents.
Over to the Left Bank, Pauillac reigns as the most prestigious of all as home to three of the five legendary First Classified Growths of Bordeaux. Its wines are also among the most expensive globally, but even mere mortals can enjoy exceptional quality; for example, in a second wine such as Château Pédesclaux’ 2015 Fleur de Pédesclaux, which is currently in its optimum year to be enjoyed. Clean and gravelly, the blend of 74% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon have a subtle, balanced finish.
Though more than 90% of Bordeaux’s output is world-renowned red, its whites are also star bottles. Try the honored Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Grand Vin Blanc Sec as a great example. According to Millesima, a French wine merchant and expert in Bordeaux wines, this cuvée is “amazing.” Its 2015 vintage blends 73% Sémillon and 27% Sauvignon Blanc to become “very distinguished” on the palate; powerful and fresh.
And indeed, Bordeaux is our destination to conclude a holiday season meal in style. The Sauternes appellation, using Sauvignon blanc, Muscadelle, and Sémillon grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, produces sumptuous sweet wines unlike any other.
Chateau Suduiraut’s 2007 vintage is a great choice: intense, honeyed and floral, its Sémillon overtakes the Sauvignon Blanc to give a powerful finish.
5 Non-Alcoholic Beers you want to Try
Non-alcoholic beer has never received the same attention that ‘real’ beer received. It was treated as an afterthought. Its most respectable position would be at the bottom of a beer list, or unreachable spots on a liquor store shelf.
To be honest, non-alcoholic beer was the last thing that came to mind for beer lovers. Once there was an increase of craft beer quality and availability, the sober-curious and those who don’t take alcohol were disappointed to find a watery product that wasn’t exactly beer.
Things have changed now and for the better. Now that more people are interested in nonalcoholic drinks, we are seeing nonalcoholic beers getting more attention and effort. You could very easily find the non-alcoholic beers appearing on a list of alcoholic drinks.
Breweries are bringing forth fruity and unfiltered crisp lagers, IPAs, and sour ales using different proprietary methods that eliminate alcohol from the brews.
Most of these companies also produce regular sought craft beer. However, most of the brewing companies were once traditional brewers who decided to focus on non-alcoholic beers after shifting to the low alcohol level lifestyle. Most of their beers have an extremely low alcohol percentage (0.5% ABV).
It doesn’t matter whether you’re marathon training, finally deciding to become sober, or you simply want to experiment on IPA’s count while at home, you have various options. Below are some of our best non-alcoholic cans at the moment.
Helles Lager by Two Roots Brewing
This beer is good with French fries. Not only is it light-bodied, but it is also clean with the right amount of malt flower that allows it to be consumed with fatty foods. It can also go well with snacks or crispy-skinned fish. Once you hive Helles a try, you can then give other types of Two Roots a try.
Golden Ale by Athletic Brewing
This drink has notes of fresh-cut grass, toasty baguette, lemon peels and black tea. It bears similarities with a Belgian ale only it would be its lowercase version.
Amber Lager from Bauhaus Brew Labs
This drink is smooth with the flavor of toasted malt. It’s darker than most light lagers and its body is slightly heavier. Lovers of Modelo Negra and Newcastle will enjoy it. If you wish to switch from regular to non-alcoholic beer occasionally, the Bauhaus Brewers have alcoholic beers as well.
Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing
The gose is always a must-have for us. Whether it has booze or not, its salty, perfectly tat (and in this drink) it’s filled with a raspberry flavor. You can pair it with any salty snack, cream or dessert.
Creatives IPA from Surreal Brewing
This drink has notes of grapefruit, resiny pine trees and mango. All you need to do is relax with your eyes closed and let it transport you to a tropical beach.
Build your Wine Collection from Scratch – Here’s How
Building your own wine collection is an unrivaled experience but also a never-ending process of trial and error. It’s not the same as collecting art pieces, with wines it is more like a leap into the unknown. Not every time, of course, but very often. Wine, however, is arguably one of the most popular alcoholic beverages across the globe, and more and more people decide to plunge into the wonderful world full of unique tastes and aromas.
The good news is you do not have to be a millionaire in order to build a wine collection but, quite understandably, certain knowledge is required, so as a little help of lady luck. If you are ready to embark on the most exciting journey of your life, check out the basics of building your wine collection from scratch we share below.
Determine Your Goals
The very first thing you have to do is to set your goals and determine the priorities. Ask yourself what is your main reason to start a collection. Are you plotting to invest money and make some profit? Or do you just want to assemble a diverse selection of bottles to have the perfect fit for every occasion? Your goals make a big difference and once you set them, you will be able to develop a proper strategy able to help you hit the sweet spot. And believe us, you will need a good plan to cover every aspect of your new hobby or business, from the list of auctions you might want to attend to close monitoring of the developments in the fine wine market.
Set A Budget
Just like with all other things in our life, it is of utmost importance to decide on the amount of money you are ready to invest at the outset. It doesn’t matter whether you will set aside for this purpose $10,000 or $1,000, make sure to spend them wisely. What are we trying to say is that investing all of your wine funds into a single bottle is not a good idea. The general advice is to focus on a range of wines that cost between $200 and $2,000, meaning that even with a $1,000 budget you can start with five bottles of age-worthy wines, which is an excellent foundation for a newbie.
Experienced collectors also recommend trying wine before ordering several bottles. By the way, if you worry about the destiny of an uncorked bottle in the case it’s not consumed immediately, consider taking a close look at this dispenser that preserves wine for at least 30 days. The special technology guarantees no alternation of the organoleptic elements of the wine such as taste, flavor, aroma, body, consistency, and color. That means you do not have to rush to conclusions and can take your time to decide on whether you want a certain variety or not.
Decide On A Storage
Chances are you have a fancy wine fridge but we have to disappoint you – it is not a proper place to store your wine long-term because such fridges are not designed to facilitate conditions that let age-worthy wines reach their full potential. You have two options: invest in a home cellar or take advantage of professional full-service storage. If you have a proper space at your house, your own cellar is a better solution in the long run but professional service also has its virtues.
Opt For Collectible Wines
Collectibility is a very broad term, mainly because it is pretty much a matter of personal view. Anyway, it is safe to say collectible wines are those that have the following characteristics: top scores from critics, a great quality-to-price ratio, aging potential, and are available for purchase by the case and in bulk. Last but not least, such wine has to suit your personal taste and preferences. Since not many collectible wines have all the aforementioned elements, you will have to learn, research, and do your due diligence to figure out the perfect match for your collection.
Keep Track Of Each Bottle
Well, keeping track of your wine would certainly be a piece of cake at the very start, but it can become a huge problem later on. If you do not want to miss the peak of a certain bottle, keep accurate records about every bottle from the very moment you add it to your collection.
Building a wine collection is a lot of fun, all the more so, nowadays you have tons of resources just at your fingertips. Use them wisely and remember that your taste does matter.
What is a Dessert Wine?
A dessert wine is a term that many people hear every now and then. However, people who do not know much about wines tend to get a little confused when they hear the term ‘dessert wine’. They often wonder what wine has to do with an after-dinner treat. Well, to answer that, a dessert wine is basically a sweet wine that is served with dessert. It is also sometimes referred to as pudding wines.
When it comes to the principles for the harmony of food and wine, one of the most important to note is that the meal should never be sweeter than wine. Therefore, the wine should be at least as sweet as the food or dessert. And, if you drink a dry or non-sweet wine while eating a sweet dessert, the wine you are drinking will have a very sour taste.
If you want to know more about dessert wine, then read on as we’re going to explain further what it is, how it becomes sweet, and the different dessert wines that you can try.
How are Wines Get to Be So Sweet to Match with Desserts?
If you haven’t tried dessert wines yet, then you might be thinking about how come they are sweet, unlike other types of wine, which are usually bitter in taste. Well, there are basically three methods on how they are made sweet.
The most popular and straightforward method is by making them out of very ripe or sometimes overripe grapes, which are harvested at a very late stage. The grapes also form sugar in such a high degree that they still show a high degree of sweetness even after being fermented to wine.
When vintners want to make particularly high-quality dessert wines, then they go a step further. This is by hoping for an infestation of their vines by what they call noble rot. This happens when the skin of the grapes become permeable, and the water evaporates from them. This causes all other ingredients, including the aroma, the acid, and the sweetness, to become stronger.
There’s also a different way of concentrating the ingredients and sugars in the grapes, which are used in rare ice wines. What they do is they leave grapes hanging on the vine until very late in the year, with vintners hoping for an early winter. Once the temperatures drop to 19°F or lower, the frozen grapes will be harvested and quickly squeezed out. Since the water in the grapes is frozen, it will be retained in the grapes. The little juice that can be pressed out f the frozen grapes contain highly concentrated sugar, acid, and aroma.
There are also liqueur wines, in which fermentation of the sweet grapes is interrupted by adding alcohol. This results in a sweet wine that is high in alcohol content. They are called fortified wines.
Dessert wines, aside from being perfect pairs for sweet desserts, they are also great to pair with spicy cheese. It’s because the fruity sweetness of the wine can help cut the salty flavor of the cheese.
Different Types of Dessert Wines You Can Try
To further understand dessert wines, we are giving you the different types that you can try matching with your favorite sweet treats.
1. Fortified Wines
Fortified wines are one of the most historically significant categories of wine. They are made by adding grape spirit or brandy to wine either during or after fermentation. This depends if the winemaker wants the finished wine to be sweet or dry. If the wine is fortified before fermentation is completed, the wine will turn out to be sweet because there will still be sugar left in the wine.
This technique started during the Age of Exploration. It was during the time when voyagers need to strengthen their wines to be able to withstand long ocean voyages. This is the reason why most fortified wines today are ageable. And whether fortified wines are dry or sweet, they have one thing in common, which is they contain high alcohol.
Here are some of the fortified wines you can try:
- SherrySherry is one of the coolest dessert wines in the world. However, many wine lovers steer clear of this wine because it can be a little intimidating. It’s because this type of dessert wine is made in several different styles in the Spanish region of Jerez. It means that this wine has many personalities, unlike other wines that do not have a single character.When making Sherry, three grapes can be used, such as Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximenez or PX, and Moscatel. Sherry is also branded by its unique solera aging system, where old barrels of Sherry are topped up with younger wines from the system. Sherry can be confusing at first, but to make it easier, you can categorize it in two ways, which are dry versus sweet. Sweet Sherry wines include Cream, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez, and all of them have significant sweetness and fig-like flavors.
- PortPort is also like Sherry, which comes in different styles. But the difference is it is always sweet and typically a red wine. Port came from Portugal’s Douro River Valley and is made using local grapes called Touriga Nacional, together with other local supporting grapes.If you want a sweet dessert wine that has fresh red fruit flavors, then you must try Ruby Ports. This wine carries a deep ruby-red color and has chocolate and berry flavors. If you want nuttier styles of dessert wine, then Tawny Port is perfect for you. It is oxidatively aged and has dried fruit, nut, and toffee flavors.
- MadeiraMadeira wines are made from four core grapes, which are Sercial, Bual, Verdelho, and Malmsey. It ranges from drier to sweeter, and when it’s labeled Rainwater, it is generally a blend of medium sweetness. Madeira wine is characterized by tastes of dried and cooked fruit, nuts, honey, toffee, and much more. It can also last for centuries and can be kept open and out of the fridge.
- MarsalaMarsala wine is thought of as a simple wine used for cooking. But did you know that it has a long history, which sits among the ranks of the world’s most popular fortified dessert wines which are Sherry, Port, and Madeira? Hence, making it one of the best dessert wines that you can try, too.
- Rutherglen MuscatThis type of dessert wine is made from Muscat Rouge a Petits Grains, which is a reddish-skinned white grape. It is left on the vine to gain sugar throughout the harvest season. It is fortified during fermentation, that’s why much of its sugar remains in the wine. It is then aged oxidatively in barrel, resulting in a rich, brown, and sweet wine that has intense flavors of raisins, burnt caramel, prunes, coffee, and more.
2. Late-Harvested or Noble Rot Wines
As mentioned earlier, noble rot wines are those wines created from grapes that are left on the vine until the end of the harvest season. This method allows them to get super-ripe and gain lots of sugar. It is a version of late-harvest wine, but the healthy grapes are attacked by Botrytis cinerea, which is a type of fungus that punctures grape skins to dehydrate them, creating concentrated flavors, sugar, and acidity in grapes.
Here are some of the different noble-rot dessert wines that you can try:
- RieslingRiesling is one of the most versatile grapes in the world. It is grown all over the world, but its sweet-wine home is in Germany. Sweet Riesling wine range from off-dry to late-harvested versions with more concentration. Riesling is also being produced in Austria using the Pradikat system. This type of dessert wine is low in alcohol.
- SauternesThis dessert wine is considered to be the world’s greatest sweet wine. And it is also one of history’s most sought-after and expensive sweet wines. When it comes to noble-rot wines, Sauternes is the gold standard, being made from the easily-attacked Semillon grape, together with Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc. Even though the purple fuzz-covered grapes may seem disgusting, they transform into a lusciously sweet dessert wine that is aged in oak before release.
- TokajiTokaji is a dessert wine that comes from Hungary. It is made from the local Furmint grape, which is high in acid and very susceptible to botrytis, too. These wines are uber sweet and are barrel-aged, as well. They are also low in alcohol. One variety of this is the Tokaji Esszencia, which is made only from the syrupy free-run juice that comes from the aszu grapes. It is probably the sweetest wine in the world, but it is difficult to find, too. It can age for more than a century and is usually sold by the teaspoonful.
3. Dried Grape Wines
Drying grapes is a traditional technique done in Italy, Greece, and Austria. Dried grape wines are made by drying health grapes after harvesting them. Most of the time, they are hanged from rafters or placed on straw mats. This method dehydrates the grapes, which concentrates the remaining sugar and flavors, creating a sweet wine with clean flavors.
Here are some of the dried grape dessert wines you can try:
- Vin Santo Del ChiantiThis dessert wine is also known as the holy wine. It can be found in some regions of Italy. It is made from Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia grapes, which are hung in whole bunches from rafters. This wine is barrel-aged in small oak or chestnut barrels between three and eight years. It is sweet with dried fruits and raisin flavors.
- Recioto Della ValpolicellaThis one is a sweet red wine that is made from dried Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes. These grapes are traditionally dried on straw mats or in lofts, ensuring that air circulates through the grapes during the drying process to avoid molds from forming. This type of dessert wine is characterized by dried berry and raisin, along with vanilla and chocolate.
These are some of the different types of dessert wines and how they are made. These wines can be a dessert themselves, but bakery sweets can make a good match. Just remember the general rule that the wine should be sweeter than the food it is served with. We hope the information we shared was able to give you more knowledge about what a dessert wine is.
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