“Just Sweet: A Guide to Dessert Wine for Beginners”

dessert wine
dessert wine

What Is Dessert Wine?

Dessert Wine is a type of sweet wine that made mostly from white grapes that are ripe but there also made from red wine. This type of wine are often served with dessert and therefore often called Dessert Wine.

Dessert wines come in a variety of styles and flavors, ranging from light and refreshing to rich and syrupy. Some popular types of dessert wines include port, sherry, ice wine, late harvest wines, and botrytized wines.

Dessert wines are usually served in smaller quantities than other wines and are often paired with desserts like fruit tarts, chocolate, or cheese. They can also be enjoyed on their own as a sweet after-dinner drink.

Types Of Dessert Wine

Dessert wines are the perfect accompaniment as well as the replacement for your desserts. These wines are meant for you to enjoy in a small glass and sip patiently like a glass of Scotch. There are a large variety of wine names of this type but there are five primary types of dessert wines:

1) Fortified Wines


Why is Fortified?
Because there is a mixture of alcohol up to 20% in the grape at the time of manufacture .It result in the flavor and aroma that is different from other wines.

These are rich, sweet wines, perfect for dessert. Port is one of these fortified sweet dessert wines which is extremely popular. It has dark red color and has the flavor of spices, plums, and berries. Other such wines include Sherry and Madeira.

These are usually prepared by mixing a fixed quantity of alcohol into the fermenting wine during the process of fermentation itself. This alcohol kills the yeast that grows in the grapes and stops the fermentation process and leaves the residual natural sugars of the grapes still in the wine.

This is how these sweet wines are obtained. They have an alcohol content in the range of fifteen to twenty percent.

2) Late Harvest Wines

late-harvest wine
late-harvest wine

This is a top choice of type of dessert wine. In order to produce Late Harvest Dessert Wines, the grapes are left on their vines until they become very ripe and sweet. In the following process of fermentation, the yeast dies before it is able to process all the sugar in these grapes.

Riesling grapes are the preferred choice for late harvest dessert wines as it has high acidity which prevents the final wine from becoming too sweet and keeps it crisp and refreshing.

It goes along well with desserts like the apple pie. If you are looking for such a wine in the store, you will usually find the words “late harvest” on the pack.

3) Ice Wines

ice wines
ice wines

Ice wine is dessert wine made from frozen grapes. Apart from rotting, freezing the grapes is another great way to concentrate its sugars and obtain a wine with a sweet taste.

The most interesting part of the harvest is that the grapes are left on their vines long after the harvest is complete until temperatures drop so much that the grapes begin to freeze on the vines.

After this, the grapes are rapidly collected and pressed to remove the water content as ice and obtain the dense sweet juice that is left, which will then be made into wine.

4) Noble Rot Wines

While ‘rot’ may sound repelling, you must be aware that the most popular and expensive wines are produced from grapes that are rotten. For this type of wine, grapes are covered in fungi whose scientific name is “Botrytis cinerea”, which is commonly known as “noble rot”.

noble rot wines
noble rot wines

It surrounds the grape, which slowly shrivels and leaches out most of its water content and only leaves behind, which is then pressed for juice. This makes it a very labor intensive process as there is very little juice that is left inside the shriveled grapes making it difficult and painstaking to extract.

The most popular noble rot wines are hand harvested and end up with complex flavors with a touch of spice, honey, and exotic fruits.

This type of harvest is rare and the vines may be covered by nets which shield them from birds and warm or stormy weather. Thus the yields are rare, making the wines expensive and very much sought after.

True Ice wine is intense, elegant and crisp at the same time. Also, it pairs well with baked & fresh fruit and desserts like hazelnut cakes and crème caramel.

5) Dried Grape Wine

To make dried grape wine, the grapes are dried on the vine itself using a technique called ‘passerillage’ in France and ‘appassimento’ in Italy. Since the grapes are dried, it is sweeter than the grapes with water.

dried grape wine
dried grape wine

Just like in the case of grapes and raisins, where raisins are sweeter due to the sugar that is left behind after the water has been dried. Grapes are left, right on the vines themselves, to dry or hung indoors from racks.

They are sometimes even spread out, outdoors to dry in the sun. The final product is a delicious wine with mixed flavors of candied fruits, spices, and honey. At the store, you need to look for packs that mention “Vin de Paille”, which is French for “straw wine”.

It comes from the fact that the grapes are usually laid outdoors on mats made from straw, to dry. You can also look for “passito” on packs with Italian labels.

So if you looking for dessert wine, just looking for this label’s.

How To Choose Dessert Wine?

Choosing a dessert wine can be a delightful experience as there are so many options to choose from. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a dessert wine:

  1. Sweetness level: Dessert wines are generally sweeter than other types of wine, but the level of sweetness can vary. Some dessert wines are very sweet, while others are only slightly sweet. Consider your personal taste preferences and the sweetness level of the dessert you will be pairing the wine with. Sweeter wines are better with desserts that are less sweet, while drier wines are better with sweeter desserts.
  2. Flavor profile: Dessert wines come in a wide range of flavors, from fruity to nutty to spicy. Consider the flavors that will complement the dessert you will be serving.
  3. Wine style: There are several styles of dessert wines, including fortified wines, late-harvest wines, ice wines, and sparkling wines. Each style has its own unique characteristics and is best suited for certain types of desserts.
  4. Price: Dessert wines can range in price from relatively inexpensive to very expensive. Consider your budget when choosing a dessert wine.
  5. Region: Some regions are known for producing exceptional dessert wines. Consider the region of origin when selecting a dessert wine.
  6. Food pairing: The wine should complement the dessert you will be serving. For example, a rich chocolate dessert might pair well with a Port or a sweet Sherry.

In summary, when choosing a dessert wine, consider the sweetness level, flavor profile, wine style, price, region, and food pairing. Most importantly, choose a wine that you enjoy and that complements the dessert you will be serving.

Dessert Wine Price

The price of dessert wine can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, such as the type of grape used, the region it was produced in, the winemaking techniques used, and the quality of the vintage. Generally speaking, dessert wines tend to be more expensive than table wines due to the longer fermentation process and the higher sugar content.

On average, a bottle of dessert wine can range from $20 to $100 or more. Some of the most expensive dessert wines can cost several hundred dollars per bottle. However, there are also more affordable options available, particularly if you’re willing to try wines from lesser-known regions or producers.

Ultimately, the price you pay for dessert wine will depend on your personal taste preferences, budget, and the occasion for which you buy the wine.

Where To Buy Dessert Wine?

You can buy dessert wine at a variety of places, including:

  1. Wine shops and liquor stores: These types of stores often have a wide selection of dessert wines to choose from.
  2. Online wine retailers: Many online wine retailers offer a variety of dessert wines and can ship directly to your door.
  3. Wineries: If you have a local winery in your area, they may have their own dessert wines available for purchase.
  4. Restaurants: Many restaurants offer dessert wines on their wine lists and may also sell bottles for takeout.
  5. Specialty food stores: Some specialty food stores may carry a selection of dessert wines that pair well with their products.

When purchasing dessert wine, consider the sweetness level, grape variety, and region of origin to ensure you choose a wine that complements your dessert or palate preferences.

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