Dessert wines are those wines that are perfect to enjoy along with dessert at the end of a meal. In fact, for every moment of the meal there is a wine pairing that enhances the flavor of each dish, from appetizer to dessert. Fortunately, Italy is rich in grape varieties and types of production that make it possible to bring sweet dessert wines to life. Without thinking too much about it, we often tend to use dry sparkling wine to accompany any dessert. In reality, a dessert wine can be white or red, and if chosen wisely can turn the end of a meal into an unforgettable moment. For example, to accompany tiramisu, Moscato is a suitable wine, while for a chocolate cake it is better to opt for a passito wine or a Recioto della Valpolicella.
Dessert wines: production and characteristics
Italian dessert wines are countless and it is not always easy to choose from the many offerings on the market.
Here are the main types of sweet wines produced in the Bel Paese:
- Passito wines;
- Still sweet wines;
- Fortified wines;
- Flavored wines;
- Sweet sparkling wines.
There are three methods of producing dessert wines, but the most popular one is definitely using very ripe grapes. Harvesting grapes out of season, that is, later than standard, allows the grapes to acquire a high sugar content. This gives the wine a higher degree of sweetness, even after fermentation. For fine dessert wines this production process is taken one step further. The grapes are left in the vineyard until they rot, doing so produces noble rot. At this point the skin of the grape is porous, water evaporates from the pulp concentrating more sweetness, acidity and aroma. Fine dessert wines thus turn out even more fragrant and intense.
To every dessert its sweet wine
Dessert wine was created to accompany a dessert, but many types can also be enjoyed on their own, as meditation wines. One of the rules on how to choose the right wine to go with the right dessert is that the latter should not be sweeter than the wine selected. When you pair a dry wine with a dessert, the result is to have bitterness in the mouth. Therefore, it is better to choose a wine that is at least as sweet as the dessert being served. Wine-food pairing is therefore not the easiest, but there are many solutions all made in Italy that you can adopt without too many headaches. Passito wines, for example, perfectly accompany dry cookies such as cantucci. A millefeuille will pair perfectly with a complex wine such as sweet muffato wine.
For egg-based desserts such as crème caramel or soufflé, a generous wine such as Marsala or Madeira is best. When serving a mixed cabaret of pastries, you can play it safe with a Moscato d’Asti, which can create a perfect combination with most varieties of small pastries. If a wine or liqueur is used to make the dessert, it is best to accompany the dessert with a glass of the same wine to give continuity to the palate. Sweet dessert wine is also good to accompany some mildewed cheeses, such as Roquefort and Gorgonzola, whose intense saltiness they soften.
Passito Veneto di Garganega and Recioto Della Valpolicella
Two important dessert wines come from Valpolicella and are Passito Veneto di Garganega and Recioto della Valpolicella, one of Italy’s most beloved red dessert wines. Passito Veneto di Garganega is a sweet wine that has a golden yellow color. It smells of ripe fruit and fresh flowers with a hint of vanilla. On the palate, it is full and enveloping. It is ideal served at the end of a meal with dry cakes and cookies, a pairing that allows the wine and dessert characteristics to be enhanced.
Recioto della Valpolicella Classico is an unparalleled red dessert wine. A DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) wine, it is a red dessert wine, ruby in color with violet highlights. Warm and velvety, it has hints of cherry and excellent complexity. The ideal pairing of Recioto is with chocolate desserts, Christmas sweets such as pandoro and panettone, sbrisolona cake, almond paste and other dry biscuits with almonds.