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Don't dismiss sweet wines - it's a big mistake!

by , 15 August 2013

Because of their sweetness, many wine drinkers view sweet wines with an air of disdain. They either associate them with drunken nights at varsity where the cheapest wines they could afford were also the sweetest... Or live under the false premise that sweet wines are just for ladies. This isn't true. A good sweet wine can be just as delicious and inspiring for your dinner guests as a mature Bordeaux if you know what you're doing. Here's how to pick one…

It makes no sense, but sweet wines are like the black sheep of the wine list.

But here’s the thing: True wine connoisseurs know that nothing rounds off a meal like a great sweet wine.

And it’s not just desserts that sweet wines pair well with… Pick the right one, and you’ll add a new dimension to spicy foods and curry.

Hallmarks of a great sweet wine

There are three factors to consider when looking for the right sweet wine to pair with your meal, writes vinoinlove.com.

  1. Intensity – Intense wines call for rich dishes and desserts or for no dessert at all – think creamy desserts like Tirimisu.
  2. Sweetness – Make sure your wine is sweeter than the dessert. It’s one of the reasons why port works so well with chocolate.
  3. Acidity – Acidic sweet wines pair well with fruity desserts, which have a natural acidity. Reislings, for example, work well with a fruity Pavlova or salsas.

Look out for these sweet wine varieties in your local bottle store…

Fortified wines: These wines include well-known sweet wine varieties like sherry, port, Muscat and Vermouth. Fortified wines are named so because the winemaker either added alcohol during the fermentation process or after it to retain the wine natural sugars or increase the wine’s sugar content. 

Ice Wines: These rich, ultra-sweet wines are made from grapes that are frozen on the vine and then pressed and fermented. Ice wines are a great no dessert option if your guests want something sweet to end a meal but don’t want to indulge in a dessert.

Moscato: This is a semi-sparkling, semi-sweet to sweet, lighter-bodied white wine made from the Italian Moscato grape. It tends to have a fresh floral, ripe stonefruit and exotic spice flavour.

Riesling: This is a sweet wine with a difference. Unlike most sweet wines, which pair great with desserts, Riesling is the most common non-dessert sweet wine version. It’s fantastic with spicy foods.

Late Harvest Wines: As the name suggests, these wines come from grapes picked later during the harvest season. Because of their picking time, these grapes are more shrivelled than early harvest grapes and this gives them a higher concentration of sugar.

Sauternes: This famed French dessert wine is made from grapes that have been affected by botrytis, also known as “noble rot”. “This renders the grape ugly on the outside and downright delicious on the inside,” notes wine.about.com. Sweeter than most, drinking Sauternes is like drinking liquid gold.

Be the toast of your next dinner party with a great sweet wine to end of your meal

If you’re looking for a great sweet wine to go with your next dinner party, try Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance. FSP Wine Club buyer, Richard Cranna, believes few sweet wines are as good.

And the critics agree.

“Since being introduced in1986, Vin de Constance has consistently appeared in lists of the world’s top 10 wines,” reports the vineyard’s website. Even more impressive, its “2007 vintage was recently awarded 97 points by Robert Parker, making it the best rated South African sweet wine in history.”

Don't dismiss sweet wines - it's a big mistake!
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