Dessert Wine: Everything you need to know in 3 minutes

Dessert Wine: Everything you need to know in 3 minutes

Angelica Nohra 
Wine Importer | Wine List Consultant | Speaker

Is a meal without dessert really a meal? Is a wine tasting without a dessert wine really a wine tasting?

Personally, I never drank a lot of sweet wines so I was never really into dessert wine until I did my wine education studies and I was fascinated by the different ways that dessert wines can be made... I thought I'd share it here as I get asked about them quite a lot when showing them at wine shows. 

Did you know there are 5 different types of Dessert Wine? Most are sweet but there is also one category that is fermented to dry. 

1. Late Harvest - Leaving the grapes on the vine and picking later in the harvest which makes them big and juicy and full of sugar! 

2. Noble Rot - otherwise known as Botrytis. In regions prone to fog, this special fungus develops on the grapes and increases their sweetness while giving them honey and ginger characteristics. 

3. Dried Grapes - (like Vin Santo del Chianti) There are many methods of this but essentially and especially in Italy, the grapes are harvested before being laid out on mats to dry before being pressed into wine. 

4. Ice Wine - (one of my favs) - In very cool regions like Canada, the grapes are picked and pressed when frozen so only the sugar is released. 

5. Fortified Wine - While some fortified, like Fino Sherry are fermented to dry, most Standard and Oxidised Styles like Muscats, Cream Sherry, Marsalas and Ports are wines that are left to age for many years in barrels to alter the taste. The years in barrel make them nutty and soften the fruit flavours. 

6. Sweet Reds - these are declining in popularity but still worth a mention. A lot of sweet reds are made in the north of Italy such as Lambrusco, Brachetto and Friesa. Highly recommend trying these with Proscuitto da Parma. 

7. Sweet Sparkling - Sparkling Moscato and sweet sparkling rieslings are the best example of this. In the second fermentation for the carbonation, fermentation is stopped early to retain the sugar and thus, sweetness.

So there you have it. All the different styles of dessert wine to finish off your meal! What is your favourite? Let me know in the comments. 

Try our own Dessert Wine!

Sensi Vin Santo del Chianti 2008

Intense amber colour with a delightful confectionery bouquet with caramel and walnut tones on the palate.

Serve as an aperitif (10-12 degrees Celcius) or as an end of meal wine (18-20 degrees Celcius)

A medium-bodied desert wine with good length.

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