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Sweet wine passion

My passion for sweet wines, borne no doubt of a sweet tooth, is evident by the vast range we stock.   We call them dessert wines, but we also enjoy them with savouries:  in SW France both foie gras and Roquefort cheese are served with local sweet Sauternes, Barsac or Monbazillac. At home we like to use local paté or terrine. Alsace Sélections de Grains Nobles is another classic sweet wine, from east France, alternatively Hungary`s famous sweet wine, Tokaji Aszú.  These are deep, rich, unctuous and intensely sweet wines which glycerine-coat the palate; we call them botrytized wines, because the grapes used to make them are left to hang on their vines to be affected by the mould Botrytis Cinerea, which in turn shrivels them and concentrates their sugars; an expensive, painstaking and risky process which also imparts the unique botrytis flavour.  But not all wines are botrytized by half, and while some are even sweeter, a great many are less sweet, or their high acidity levels make them appear so. They`re a mixed bunch, sweet wines, diverse and fascinating, and just one rule:  when choosing one for a desert be sure to select a wine which is sweeter than the desert, or your wine will be ineffectual and rendered dry. So, choose carefully, or better come and speak to us. We may well take lightness and density of the dish into account, as well as flavour profile and levels of acidity and sweetness. Viscosity is another factor – and this can divide people`s enthusiasm – ranging from sticky intensely sweet wines with great viscosity which you can famously pour over vanilla ice cream, such as Spain`s Pedro Ximenez, to Italy`s super-light and frothy Moscato d`Asti at the other end of the spectrum. A gorgeous alternative to lovely Moscato by the way is bittersweet Brachetto, both these grapes grown in the same Piemonte region of northwest Italy. We opened a few bottles of Contero Brachetto d`Acqui (Rosé) at our July 20 wine-tasting dinner in the shop and it was fabulous with chef Tony Bell`s strawberry dessert.


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