The Joy of Dessert Wines

Wine glasses

Today, as we muddle through the madness and meddle with the maelstrom, we may wish for a degree certainty and some comfortability.

I can therefore say with a comfortable certainty that there is a little better remedy than that of the Sunday lunch, or, indeed any lunch... or, any food for that matter. Food, good company... and, naturally, wine - as this has been for millennia. 

Modernity often neglects the banal beauty of our development throughout the ages; eating, drinking, and speaking. Tall tales, short tales, big glasses, and small ones. We need this now more than ever.

So, as the winter winds wind their way into a grim embrace, let us clamour for the roasts, puddings and... Dessert wines.

Not forgetting the cheese too.

Barsac and Sauternes, the treasured sweets from Bordeaux, may provide the required remedy. Botrytis – also known as noble rot - brings a richness, nuttiness and aromatic zest to a pallet already bouncing from the taste of a Roquefort or Stilton. Stories of how this sweet wine came to be stem as far back as Ancient Greece and, with the stem of a glass in hand, your afternoons will be pleasurably prolonged.

If Bordeaux is all too familiar, perhaps venture westwards to the ice wines of Canada or even east to Hungary's Tokaj. With options from Greece, Germany and Australia too, the world is your very sweet Oyster.

If perhaps you wish for a final slice of contentment in talkative company, Port or Madeira will certainly help the cause. Scarcely a scent or a touch to the lips and those twice-told tales never sounded better, and those twice sustained laughs were never easier – thanks to those abvs of at least 17%.

Let the mind venture to the deep valleys of the Douro, where a Ruby blessing of blackberries and raspberries flows from the wild hillsides, and with the latent sun, comes a different hue, Tawny, full of caramel and nuttiness. There are few better things in the world than this generational product curated and crafted from 52 grape varieties and 2000 years of regional viticultural history.

Stray a little further into the high seas and glance upon a bottle of Madeira, little has changed in 300 years. Repeatedly warmed in production, there comes a wealth of stewed fruits, nuts and peel notes. Far off lands with grand myths and folklore will be spoken with every drop, so with company and this wine, speak again of your adventures - the Gap ‘yar’s’ and the volunteering, the interrailing and those thrilling, weekend Parisian escapes, akin to the intrepid mariners of the centuries.

For that final untouched morsel on your plate, venture to Spain's Andalusia and Jerez where a Sherry may entice you in to the land of Córdoba’ and Alhambra; a region strafed in heat and a heady concoction of history.

It's finest product is equally mixed and varied. From the Paler, drier Sherries made from the Palomino grape to Pedro Ximenez-driven, rich, dark, Finos, Manzanillas, Amontillados and Olorosos. Once again, nut is the prevailing note, imparted from a unique production process where the yeast is encouraged a little with access to a touch of air.

Whatever the choice may be, Dessert wine is no longer the 'Domaine' of the elders; it thrives on a young palate and as a result, your afternoon into evening too will thrive.

Now all you have to do is choose which one...


Wine & Spirits, Friday 2 December, 12pm