Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Supermarket Sweeties - Delicious Dessert wines on your Doorstep

(courtesy of Pixabay)

Its the page tucked away at the end of the menu; the cramped area shoved in at the end of the drinks aisle; the lost half bottle at the back of the drinks cabinet, hidden behind Granny's stale Sherry and Mom's Saturday night Pernod.

Dessert wine is probably the most bypassed section of the wine industry, even though this style of wine is seen as the key to grabbing the attentions of the next generation of wine drinker. Making this style of wine requires everything to be on point: hard work by Mother Nature for the weather conditions, pickers in the vineyards and winemakers in the winery. It deserves more attention that it sometimes gets in this country, and I have no idea as to why we aren't making a big song and dance about getting more people to drink them. May be its the thought of changing wines at the end of a meal that is so unsettling, or maybe having a sweet wine with a sweet dessert is just too much saccharine hedonism, but whatever it is, this style of wine deserves more credit. There are so many different types of dessert wines for us to discover on our weekly shopping trips and not one of them will leave you wincing at the price tag.

One of the most 'natural' dessert wines tend to be the wines which are created by certain weather conditions that help create a fungus called Botrytis Cinerea. This helps draw out excess moisture within the grape, leaving the all the sweet, sweet juice and grape sugars to be fermented out, creating a cornucopia of beautiful, complex flavours.

One to try is the Taste the Difference Sauternes 2011, priced at £12 for a half bottle. Made by one of the top producers of Sauternes in Bordeaux, Chateau Guirard, this wine keeps the freshness going with the zingy acidity you expect when the wine is packed full of lemony and orange-y scents. Candied peel, honey and a slight marmalade taste leave your taste buds singing like a certain ginger-haired North London born singer..

Another way of creating this sweet treat of a wine is through harvesting the grapes at the latest opportunity you possibly can, This is fraught with danger, as the longer you leave the grapes on the vine, the likelihood that disease could take hold grows, the more possibility that rain or hail could decimate the vintage, or they could become a cheeky snack for a whole host of wildlife around the vineyards. This process allows the grapes to raisin slightly, naturally removing the moisture within the grape and crystallizing the fruit flavours within.

A brilliant example of this style of wine is the Montes Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2012 at £8 from selected Morrisons stores. Slightly more unctuous than the Sauternes, Gewurztraminer has the label of being like a liquid version of Turkish delight, and this doesn't stray from the beaten path. Rich and spicy, the tropical fruits of lychee and pineapple coat your mouth. This is a great wine to have instead of dessert, but also pop it together with a creme brulee and you are in for a palate party for sure.

The other is the limited edition Beerenauslese from Aldi. Unfortunately, this was only available during Xmas, but here's hoping that its available again this year! Made from Riesling, and only £5.99, this was an apple, custard and pear pudding filled delight.

White wines aren't the only ones that can be be part of this sweet wine revolution either. Portugal has the quintessential sweet red wine in Port, which is a variety of indigenous Portuguese grapes, which are then made into a still wine and fortified with spirit to give it the 'kick' that we all know and love.

Aswell as this, you really should try Mavrodaphne of Patras, at a ridiculously cheap £5 a bottle at Tesco. Made from the Mavrodaphne grape in Greece, its fermented in the sun, then mixed in with mature older vintages to get the sweetness. Really plummy and raisiny, it has a small spirity kick towards the end, but is fantastic match for whatever strong cheese you've got in the fridge.

There is so much good quality sweet stuff on the market at the moment, so get cleaning that sweet tooth of yours and get stuck in!

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