Dessert wines are commonly called many sweet wines, with high sugar content and that are usually taken many times after meals.
Dessert wines are wines with high sugar content and high alcohol content. However, low-alcohol wines that have been enriched in sugars by various procedures are also included, such as freezing grapes on the vine or late harvests.
Dessert wines and fortified wines are similar, although not identical. Both are high in sugar; the residual sugar content of dessert wines, in particular, varies between 50 grams per liter and more than 400 grams per liter. These wines, like the fortified ones, have high alcohol content. In addition, dessert wines can be made through alcoholic fortification, in which case they would also be fortified wines.
In the UK there is a clear difference between dessert wines and fortified wines. Fortified wines are served before and after meals, while dessert wines are served during meals (especially with dessert and with fruit). In the United States, this distinction does not exist. Dessert wines are considered to be all wines with an alcohol content (ABV) greater than 14 percent. This definition includes both dessert and fortified wines.
In many European countries, it is customary for desserts to taste sweet foods or even cheeses. This means that if you have to choose a wine to accompany your after-dinner, it is a sweet wine. They are the wines that best combine with desserts, even with chocolate.
Dessert wines are made by various methods. These methods have created characteristic dessert wine styles, such as Botrytis wine or ice wine, late harvests, etc.
There is no doubt that the world of wines and gastronomy has infinite possibilities. And often the culmination of a meal is dessert, and also the “liquid of the Gods” that will accompany it. As the name already suggests, dessert wines harmonize perfectly with sweeter foods, or even can be consumed without garnishes, aiding digestion and providing great pleasure to the taster.
In this category, we find wines that naturally have high sugar concentrations, which can be red, white, rosé, or even sparkling. Furthermore, they can be full-bodied or light, young or aged, bringing an incredible variety to our disposal. Want to know more about the subject? So keep reading, because in this post we bring you harmonization tips, crafting techniques, and much more, check it out!
What is the difference between dessert wine and mild wine?
Many people confuse these styles of wine, as both have a marked sweetness. However, there are very different characteristics, ranging from the elaboration techniques to the aromatic load and perceived flavors.
As far as flavor is concerned, dessert wines have more intense sweetness and are more concentrated than mild ones. Already in technique. The first is made with natural sugar from the fruit itself, while the second is made with exogenous sugar at the end of the winemaking process.
It is interesting to demystify the concept that to be good wines must be dry. Perhaps it is because of this (wrong) conviction that Brazilians are not in the habit of consuming the sweetest wines.
Did you know that the most expensive and precious wines in the world are, precisely, the sweetest? They are so valued that, for many, they are considered the true nectar of the gods. Also because to prepare a bottle of them, more grapes are needed than the others. Interesting, isn’t it?
What are the techniques used in making dessert wine?
There are some methods used in the preparation of dessert wines that provide distinct flavors, aromas, and structures. See below.
The grapes are left on the vine and harvested after the normal ripening time. Thus, they lose water and concentrate more sugars, making the wort very sweet and acidic. It is a method widely used in New World countries.
It has the same concept as the previous one, but the grapes are harvested at normal maturation and subjected to dehydration on mats placed in the sun and ventilated. It is used in Europe, mainly in Italy.
Although the name seems unattractive, this type of process is super curious. The wine is the result of grapes attacked by a fungus called Botrytis cinerea, where the grape skin is broken, culminating in the evaporation of water. And don’t worry, the wine tastes amazing and represents great labels from France and Hungary.
In certain places where the vines are hit by snow, the grapes, still at the foot of the plant, are frozen. The water naturally present in the fruits is crystallized, and during crushing, the extracted must have an incomparable richness of sugary compounds. This phenomenon is more common in Germany and Canada, is known as Ice Wine.
Initially, the process is the same as for dry wine, but alcoholic fermentation is stopped long before the sugars run out. This feat is only achieved through the addition of a brandy, known as wine alcohol. In this way, the wine remains sweet, as the yeasts will not be able to completely consume the sugar. It is widely used in Portugal, Spain, and Italy.
Regarding the grapes used, this varies depending on the location of the winery, for example, in Bordeaux, Sémillon is used, in Hungary, Furmint, in Germany, Riesling and in Novo Mundo, Chardonnay, in Portugal, Touriga Nacional, and so on.
What are the rules for pairing this wine with desserts?
This is a question that always arises. After all, as we said, it is not very common in our country to enjoy a dessert accompanied by wine. However, with just a few tips, you can already get a sense of how to harmonize the drink with the dish.
The first step is consistency, both in the desert and in the drink. They must be proportionate, that is: for lighter sweets, such as jams and fresh fruit pies, the dessert wine must also be light.
The opposite also happens: in desserts with a higher content of sugars and fats, such as those with heavy cream, yolks, and condensed milk, the wine should be more full-bodied.
In this case, the rule is clear: wine should always be sweeter than dessert. However, its taste should not stand out from the dish served. That is: they must complement each other on the palate to maximize flavors, providing a great experience.
You can ask if it won’t be too sweet. Well, a trick is to serve the wine always chilled, because of that way the sugar is less evident, making the combination even more harmonious.