Wines To Make The Perfect Dessert

People often run away screaming if you mention dessert wines in polite company in Britain. They are seen as too sweet, and something that old people are seen drinking. When dessert wines are mentioned in the rest of Europe however, there is an astonishing amount of reverence and respect that they are given. They are often best appreciated alone at the end of a meal or with fruit or baked sweets such as almond biscuits.

In Britain we are currently beyond the dessert wine sophistication, but perhaps it is a trend that we should consider taking up. We have no definition of dessert wine, we see any sweet wine as such and tend to put all comers in the bracket. In fact, we add fortified wines such as port and madeira into the dessert wine bracket, when in fact they are a different product altogether.

As a general rule of thumb the wine should be sweeter than the dessert it is served with. Therefore a dessert wine is inappropriate with a very sweet toffee or chocolate dessert, and most suited to a lemon dessert, which is less sweet or almond biscuits which have none of the sour taste.

Wine makers who produce such wines want to make their wine as sweet as possible, and therefore these wines should contain high amounts of sugar and alcohol. To increase the content of sugar and alcohol in the wine, many simply add sugar or alcohol to the process of wine making. The Germans who are great lovers of sweet wine have coined a phrase ‘süss reserve’ which means reserve of sweetness. This is when unfermented grape juice is added to the wine after fermentation. This increases the sweetness of the wine but lowers the alcohol content. This also reduces the usage of sulphites in the wine.

Another way that is used to produce dessert wines is to use mouldy grapes. Although this sounds like a completely bizarre thing to do ‘on purpose’ it has produced some of the most famous dessert wines of all time. It can’t be any old mould though. There are only two types of mould so far that can be used for this purpose: Botrytis Cinera is used to suck water out of the grape, whilst passing the new flavours of honey and apricot to the future wine; noble rot is used on Riesling grapes to produce famous wines from German river valley whites to sparkling ‘sekt’. These wines are late harvested, and were probably first created by accident.

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About The Author, Fiona Muller
Fiona Muller has been writing for over 20 years. She is a qualified journalist and has worked in food and drink writing for the last few years. To find out more about dessert wines or just to find some excellent wines to buy online visit