Emma Briffett from our Tastings & Events team talks us through sweet wine styles and how best to drink them (hint: it usually involves a decadent dessert).
In need of a little 'pick me up'? There is ultimately something very decadent about opening a bottle of dessert wine – especially if you have something sweet and delicious to enjoy with it. But with all the different styles available, from sumptuous Sauternes to rich, sticky muscats, how do you start with choosing the perfect pudding partner?
Tip #1 – Choose a wine that's sweeter than your pud
The key is to think about how sweet your dessert is and make sure that you go for a wine which is slightly sweeter, to keep those flavours in balance. So for an apple crumble you could probably choose a wine with a Society sweetness rating of 7, but with a sticky toffee pudding, go all in for a super-sweet wine which will match up to the sweetness of the toffee; a wine with a sweetness rating of 9 or thereabouts.
A super-sweet wine is needed to match a sticky toffee pudding
Tip # 2 – Pick a flavour profile that matches your dessert
However, the sugar levels are just the start, there is so much more to dessert wines than their sweetness. The different ways in which these wines are produced give a myriad different flavours ranging from candied citrus fruits and grapes, butterscotch and caramel, through to dried fruits such as dates and figs and nuts. What takes your fancy?
Botrytised wines such as Sauternes, Tokaji and German Beerenauslese and Trokenbeerenauslese tend to have flavours of candied citrus fruit peel, peaches and pineapple, with notes of butterscotch, vanilla and sometimes coconut. These wines tend to work really well with fruit-based desserts (lemon tart is a wonderful combo) or comforting 'nursery' puddings such as bread and butter pudding or fruit crumble.
Rich, dark muscats and Christmas pudding
Rich, dark muscats are the perfect treat with dried fruit – the flavours in the wine tend to mirror those in the dessert, so give muscat a try on Christmas Day with that all important dinner finale, Christmas pudding. If you can't wait till the 25th to tuck in, try a glass of chilled muscat with a mince pie as a festive treat – it's the ultimate 'me time' luxury!
Muscat is also a natural partner to chocolate puddings
Muscat is also a natural partner to chocolate puddings, so the next time you whip up a chocolate fondant, reach for a glass of sweet muscat to go with it. Fortified wines also work a treat as they have enough oomph to stand up to the richness of either chocolate or Christmas Pudding – or both if you really want to push the boat out.
No matter what the occasion there is always a dessert wine to match, and finding your perfect combination is all part of the fun.
Explore our range of sweet wines