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Dessert

Dessert wines have a higher residual sugar content (glucose and fructose) to normal table wines – anywhere from 3-28% – by comparison a dry table wine usually has less than 1% residual sugar. There are many types of dessert wines, made from many different varietals. The most prevalent dessert wines are late harvest wines. Simply put, this is where the grapes have been left on the vine to over-ripen (called raisining) which allows the sugar content to condense and the juice content to reduce. Then Botrytis or noble rot forms so that what remains is a concentrated, sweet juice. This juice contains so much sugar that during the fermentation process alcohol levels can only reach a certain point. The result is a rich, sweet, low-alcohol wine. Sauternes in the Bordeaux region of France and Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont in Italy are perhaps best known for producing some of the best dessert wines, however the Icewines produced in Germany and Canada are also popular choices. As the name suggests, grapes used to make Icewine are allowed to freeze on the vine at the end of harvest, and therefore yield only a small quantities of juice when pressed. Sherry, Port and Madeira, are a very different form of dessert wine. Port is a fortified wine that can be made from any type of grape, which has a spirit (usually brandy) added to it. Sherry and Madeira are created in a similar way, by exposing the wine to high temperatures over time. Many people believe that a dessert wine should accompany a dessert, however this is not necessarily true. Dessert wines offer nuances and delicate flavours which can all too easily be lost if accompanied by the wrong choice of dessert. Simple pairings often produce the most rewarding results.