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Thursday 11 July 2013

Summer Dessert Wines

This is an adapted transcript of my recent broadcast on Cambridge 105 about Summer Dessert Wines - you can access the podcast here.

Dessert wines for different seasons ? Yes ! It's The Great British Summer, it should be warm and sunny - think al fresco dining, Wimbledon with strawberries and cream.

What should we look for in a dessert wine for summer and what sort of things will it go with ?

Well, summer means generally, lighter and fresher wines - the same principle as applies to dry wines.

The first wine I've selected will absolutely go with strawberries and cream; it's also sparkling, so you could also use it to celebrate a British win at Wimbledon.

Moscato Volpi frizzante from Cambridge Wine Merchants - £9.49

Very light, delicate and more-ish - matches really well with the sweetness of fresh fruit. It's semi-sparkling and just 5.5% alcohol.

It’s very elegant prominent with summery flavours of elderflower and ripe peach.

When matching sweet wine to food, the main rule is that the wine should be slightly sweeter than the food. If the food is sweeter than the wine, then the wine's going to seem tart and unpleasant in comparison.
This actually applies to all foods - some savoury foods also have some sweetness in them - gravadlax, chicken liver pate, curries, or a terrine with a fruit chutney; these all match well with an off-dry wine like a gewurztraminer or muscat, or an off-dry Riesling.

Andrea Faccio Moscato d'Asti from Bacchanalia – £6.99 (half bottle)

This is similar to the Volpi in that it's Italian, muscat and sweet. But not fizzy and it's slightly fuller.
It's still a light wine, but you could match this with a summer fruit tart - it will stand up to the pastry base which I don't think the Volpi would.

There are flavours of ripe peach, apricot, galia melon and a touch of sherbet - plenty of ripe-fruit flavour, but also is refreshing enough to drink at a garden party

Kracher dessert wine from Austria, Noel Young Wines - from around £10 per half bottle

Kracher is the name of a family of winemakers based near the border with Hungary, considered to be Austria's greatest and one of the greatest producers of dessert wines in the world.

The wines are big, concentrated, complex, peachy-apricotty dessert wines that are incredible.
Because these are bigger wines, you can match them with heavier desserts - something like peaches roasted in butter with a sprinkling of vanilla sugar would be perfect.

Chateau de Jau, Les Clos de Paulilles, 2008, Joseph Barnes Wines - £11.99 (50cl)

My final suggestion is for a wine to match with chocolate - chocolate may not be exactly a summer dessert, but the weather is not always so summery.

I've often said that there is not a wine that matches with chocolate - usually it needs either a whisky or a ruby port. But, there is a sweet red called Banyuls that is a perfect match for bitter dark chocolate.

Go for a high-cocoa chocolate and you'll have something with lots of bitterness, just a touch of sweetness and plenty of cocoa aromatics
The wine is a sweet red, which may seem a bit odd, but it is delicious - a bit like a port with flavours of raisins, herbs and a sweet-sharpness.
Other ideas for sweet summer sippers are:
- off-dry German Rieslings; look for something from the Mosel.
- Alsace does lovely dessert wines; these are fuller and more suited to food, such as gravadlax
- sweet Vouvray
- and of course the most famous dessert wine of all, Sauternes.
Other related articles
July Wine of the Month

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