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.
The Great Australian Booze Shift: Beer Takes a Backseat as Spirits Soar
In a nation where the beer has long been a cultural staple, a seismic shift is occurring. According to new data from the Australian government, beer consumption in Australia has plummeted to its lowest point in nearly 80 years. The figures are staggering: Australians consumed just 82 liters of beer per capita in 2019-20, a sharp decline from the 190 liters per capita recorded between 1974-75. So, what’s filling the void? Spirits, and not just any spirits—high-alcohol spirits like vodka, gin, and tequila are seeing a significant uptick.
The Rise of Spirits
The data reveals that spirits recorded a 10% increase between 2019-20, with Australians consuming 19% more high-alcohol spirits per capita over the year than in 2016-17. According to the government report, “This is the highest level seen since the peak of spirits consumption in 2007–08 of 2.3 liters per capita.”
But it’s not just the quantity; it’s also the quality and type of spirits that are changing. In 2007-08, spirits mixed with soft drinks made up 48% of spirits consumption. Fast forward to 2019-20, and that number has dropped to 28%. This suggests that Australians are becoming more discerning drinkers, opting for purer forms of spirits over pre-mixed beverages.
The Tax Factor
Researchers attribute this shift, in part, to changes in tax on ready-to-drink beverages implemented in 2008. This tax change led to a spike in the consumption of certain spirits. Unmixed spirits like vodka, whiskey, and liqueurs are now at their highest level, with people drinking an average of 1.5 liters of alcohol from these drinks in 2019-20.
This aligns with global trends where premiumization in the spirits sector is evident. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global spirits market size was valued at USD 378.0 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% from 2021 to 2028.
Wine Still Reigns, But Not By Much
Despite the decline in beer and the rise in spirits, wine remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in Australia, accounting for 42% of all apparent alcohol consumption. While wine recorded its lowest rate of consumption since 2015-16, it remains at one of its highest levels over the past 60 years.
The Bigger Picture
Interestingly, the report found that the total amount of “pure alcohol” available in Australia fell by less than 1% in 2019-20 but was still significantly higher than five years earlier. This change did not reflect “per capita consumption” and instead came about as Australia’s population continues to grow.
What Does This Mean for the Beverage Industry?
For the beverage industry, these trends signal a need for adaptation. Brands that have traditionally focused on beer might need to diversify their portfolios. The craft spirits movement, already a significant trend in countries like the United States as reported by Forbes, could find fertile ground in Australia.
The Australian drinking landscape is undergoing a transformation. While beer has been dethroned from its longstanding reign, spirits, particularly high-alcohol ones, are ascending the throne. Factors like tax changes and a more discerning consumer base are contributing to this shift. As Australia’s population continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how these trends evolve and what new preferences emerge. One thing is for sure: the Australian liquor cabinet is getting a makeover, and it’s looking more sophisticated than ever.
An Alcohol-Free Version of Our Best-Loved Cocktail
So many people want to know how they can enjoy Coconut cream and lime margarita without the drowsiness that comes after an alcoholic drink. Alcohol is a commitment that you are not always prepared to make. Few things are as pleasant as a margarita enjoyed at a poolside.
Devon Francis is a test kitchen cook who has solved your dilemma with her recipe for a non-alcoholic margarita that offers the same refreshing tropical flavors with none of the alcohol. She uses honey, ginger, maca root powder, Tajin, and orange juice instead of tequila and Cointreau. Believe it or not, her margarita is just as good as the original – if not better.
Devon specifically chose maca powder for its mood-boosting properties and ginger as an adaptogen. According to her, the drink combines coconut flavor with tart and heat. “The overall flavor profile is tart, coconutty, with a hint of heat from the ginger and Tajín.”
Tajin is a popular Mexican seasoning composed of dehydrated lime, chiles, and salt. You can find Tajin in grocery stores, liquor stores, online food stores, and Latin American food stores and markets.
If you buy cut mango in Brooklyn or Mexico City, you may have come across Tajin. It is sprinkled in with the fruit and adds an invigorating salty, bright, and spicy flavor to the mango.
Devon designed her recipe to be flexible and quick to make.
Here is her recipe for a fabulous non-alcoholic margarita:
Non-Alcoholic Coconut-Lime Margarita
To rim the glass:
1 tbsp. pink Himalayan salt
½ tsp. Tajin Clasico Seasoning
For rimming the glass:
To make the drink:
3 oz. coconut milk
1 Tbs. local wildflower honey
2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. maca root powder
2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 tsp. Tajín Clásico Seasoning, plus more for garnish
1 lime wedge
Combine the Tajin and salt in a small bowl and stir them together. Spread them evenly in one layer. A small bowl will help you to coat the rim of your glass with a thicker mixture.
Use the lime wedge to moisten the rock’s glass rim and dip it into the salt mixture in the bowl. Shake off any extra and store the glass in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Before you serve the margarita, pour ice cubes into your rimmed glass. Combine the orange juice, coconut milk, honey, lime juice, ginger, honey, maca root powder, and Tajin in a cocktail shaker. Cover the cocktail shaker and shake the mixture hard until it is well chilled. Strain the mixture into your glass that is rimmed and filled with ice. Use the lime wedge as garnish and sprinkle Tajin lightly on your drink just before serving.
Champagne Pivots with the Pandemic
Hamptons restaurateur Ian Duke is decking the front yard of his establishment with tons of bright and cheerful orange umbrellas that symbolize Veuve Clicquot champagne.
Duke owns Union Sushi and Steak, a Southampton restaurant that is working to jump-start champagne consumption after what has been a difficult year for the champagne industry.
“When you open a restaurant, you have to decide who you are going to cater to,” explains Duke, who is catering to the kind of diner who is determined not to let the pandemic ruin their summer.
In 2020, French winemakers and grape farmers under the Comité Champagne cut production down to the lowest levels since the Great Depression. That is how hard the year was for the champagne industry. There wasn’t much celebration going on in 2020. An 18% slump in global champagne sales cost the industry above $1 billion.
The festivals and celebrations, duty-free airport promotions, and bottomless brunches that had champagne as a mainstay could not be relied on anymore.
Champagne brands are now zeroing in on resort sites like Berkshires and the Hamptons to keep themselves going.
They are partnering with restaurants, nightclubs, party planners, bars, and fundraisers to quickly make sales and turn around their fortunes.
High-end resorts all over the Northeast are witnessing alliances between champagne makers and the hospitality industry to push sales of the bubbly drink.
At the Southampton Inn, proprietor Dede Gotthelf says that after they set up a fridge by the front desk, guests started asking for sparkling wines and champagnes. Gotthelf has seen an estimated 10% increase in grab-and-go drinks supplied to rooms directly.
Meanwhile, Daniel Boulud who runs Blantyre Resort in Massachusets has put up a Dom Perignon-inspired champagne salon. The salon is fitted with a caviar menu and a Baccarat chandelier.
A few Champagne makers are offering restaurants and bars more incentives. Chef and restaurant owner Salvatore Biundo has taken advantage of the incentives to create a successful Mother’s Day menu. He says Champagne offerings go up to ten from as low as four at his Hamptons Bay’ Centro Trattoria.
Biundo has found that by making Champagne more visible, sales have gone up. He has introduced a piazza deck complete with a piano and fountain. Customers are indulging in champagne as they wait for a table. “They’re getting a $37 Blanc instead of a $13 prosecco. Hey, I’m not complaining,” says Biundo.
These higher Champagne sales are evident on weekdays as well as weekends, as one Montauk restaurant has witnessed. La Fin is a waterside restaurant that boasts among its offerings a daily ‘recovery brunch’ and stocks a wide range of champagne brands. Prices are set at $68 for the cheapest to $488 for the most expensive.
The Southern Glazer is the second leading distributor of liquor in the US. According to the Southern Glazer SVP Lee Schrager, exactly one year ago, the company had seen 160,000 of their nightclub, bar, and restaurant accounts vanish.
Now the company is preparing for the Bubble Q hosted by Guy Fieri – one of the most important Champagne events in the US. The Bubble Q was part of the Miami South Beach Wine and Food Festival, and Schrager is one of the festival founders.
Moët & Chandon will be the event sponsors, something they have not done for 10 years. The brand will donate 360 cases of champagne. Even better, most of the 160,000 accounts that the Southern Glazer lost are back to working with them.
Champagne is an ageless drink. Now that more and more people are drinking at home thanks to the pandemic, the hospitality industry is hoping that these at-home drinkers will go for something lighter and more festive … something like Champagne.
Lawrence Scott, an event planner says that champagne lends elegance to an event: “Drop two raspberries into a Champagne flute, and the guy holding it sticks out his pinkie and thinks he’s elegant.”
This summer, champagne producers are particularly keen to see their Champagne brand crowned the drink. There are still many venues that work without a complete bar.
Cocktail hours often involve patrons sitting down, with servers circulating a tray with one kind of drink Sometimes rolling carts are serving up just a couple of liquor brands.
According to La Caravelle wines ‘chief bubble officer’ Rita Jammet, there has been a clear and strong buying pattern from female customers. Jammet who heads the boutique champagne variety sold at Le Pavillon, a new eatery.
La Caravelle engaged female customers during the pandemic with Zoom cooking lessons as well as Goldbely promotions featuring Laurent Tourondel, Marcus Samuelsson, and Gabriel Kreuther, all top chefs.
La Caravelle’s splits and champagne have won the hearts of many female customers. The champagne rose has already achieved half of last year’s sales between January and April alone.
Jammet says that customers resonate with the optimism and joy that the brand evokes. “The color brings joy and optimism, which we have badly needed throughout the pandemic,” she adds.
Restaurant owners are more than ready to welcome a champagne comeback. Abraham Merchant who owns Upper East Side establishment Phillippe says it best: “Once [diners] start their meal with a glass of Champagne, they move on to a glass of wine, and then they’ll be drinking all night long.”
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