Dessert Wines

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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After a sumptuous meal, there is perhaps no better grace note to finish the evening than the uncorking of a good dessert wine. Dessert wines are a lovely finish in and of themselves. Or, they may be chosen to perfectly accompany a dessert item, such as creme brulee, chocolate fondue, or even a simple fruit and cheese dish.

A Sweet Finish

Perhaps the most famous after dinner wine is authentic Port. Authentic Port (indicating Port wines actually made in Portugal) is a sweet, fortified wine. Port is made from as many as 40 grape varieties, most of which are red. After a brief period of fermentation, it is casked for up to two years. At this point, the Port may be designated as "vintage." This type of Port needs to age 15 to 20 years to be properly enjoyed. For those who wish to enjoy their Port sooner, there are "wood aged" varieties available for purchase, which are labeled "Young Ruby" or "Aged Tawny," the latter often having aged as long as 40 years.

Another excellent dessert wine is Sherry. Genuine Sherry is a product of Spain, from the Jerez region. Sherries are available in varieties of dry, light (labeled "fino"), nutty (labeled "amontillado"), and rich (labeled "oloroso"). Sherry is considered a perfect accompaniment for tapas, as well as creme brulee and flan, cheesecake, pound cake, angel food cake and bread pudding.

One of the most sophisticated ways to finish a meal might be with the celebratory "pop" of an Italian sparkling wine. Moscato d'Asti, for instance, is a delicately sweet sparkling wine, and a perfect refreshment after a heavy meal. Moscato d'Asti pairs exceptionally well with strawberries served with creme fraiche, as well as with mascarpone cheese and lemon tiramisu.

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