Published: November 01. 2012 2:20PM
Written by Rod Grandy
A great way to finish off Thanksgiving dinner is to serve a dessert wine. These wines, broadly defined as any sweet wine served after dinner, possess elevated sugar levels and, in most cases, higher than normal alcohol content.
They are produced using one of two primary methods. One increases the sugar and alcohol content by concentrating the grape juice, while the other fortifies the wine.
Sugar levels are concentrated using one of four basic styles; late harvest, noble rot, Vin Santo and ice wines. Late harvest wines are created using grapes that have been left on the vine well past the normal harvesting period. The noble rot method deliberately allows a fungus to shrivel and dehydrate the grapes during harvest. Vin Santo wines use grapes that have been picked and then air dried to concentrate their sugars. Finally, a less-used method, but one that has ardent advocates, is ice wine. Vin de Glaciere, or Eiswein, is created from grapes that are picked partially frozen on the vine or have been packed in a freezer to concentrate the sugar.
Fortified wines are also served as a dessert wine. One of the best known of these wines is port. Named after the seaport city of Porto and dating back to the 17th century, port was first made in the Douro Valley of Portugal. This celebrated wine region perfected the process which involves adding a neutral grape spirit during fermentation to kill the yeasts that convert sugar to alcohol, thus creating a very sweet and potent wine.
The most important rule for the pairing of dessert wines with dessert is that the wine should always be sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, the wine can taste acerbic. So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions.
If you are going for the decadent dessert, something rich with chocolate, your best bet is to pair that with a tawny port. The nutty flavor of this port will provide a great balance to the richness of the chocolate. Fonseca and Sandeman produce some of the most consistent and highly rated tawny ports.
The intensely sweet wines from the famous Hungarian region of Tokaji are often served with cheesecakes or pecan pies. Look for the topaz colored Aszus style for the best results. Moscatos are excellent with fruit cobblers and pies. These refreshing sweet wines are readily available and reasonably priced.
A good pairing choice for the classic Thanksgiving pumpkin pie is Madeira. These fortified Portuguese white wines have an acidity that will cut through the creamy texture of the pie filling. Look for the sweet versions that are made with the malmsey grape.
Serving temperatures for sweet wines are similar to regular table wines. Whites should be served chilled in the 50 – 60 degree range and reds slightly warmer. Also remember that due to the high sugar content in these wines, they will be fine for up to a year after opening.
Try one of these dessert wines and finish your Thanksgiving meal with style!
|Try a dessert wine and finish your Thanksgiving meal with style.David Poleski|