WINE O’CLOCK: Sweets for my sweet with a hint of honey
SOME people like to drink a dessert wine with, reasonably enough, their dessert. I like to drink them as my dessert. The sweetness of the wine combined with the sweetness of most puddings is just too much for my taste, but a glass of Sauternes, sipped just by itself, is a lovely end to a good meal.
Sauternes, from France’s southern Bordeaux region, is the most popular non-fortified dessert wine in Ireland.
The fortified wines, such as Port and Sherry, have spirit added. With Sauternes the process is natural. The sweetness is caused by a fungus which concentrates the grapes’ natural sugar.
A wine very similar to Sauternes is produced from a neighbouring region under the name Barsac and France has other good sweet whites, such as Monbazillac and Cadillac. Germany contributes some under the names Eiswein and Beerenauslese.
Hungary (and sometimes Slovakia) produces interesting after-dinner specials under the Tokaji name.
Desert wines tend to be expensive. But you will only drink them in small quantities so, if you are buying for home consumption, a bottle now and again won’t add much to your shopping bill.
Here are a few you might try.
Chateau Mauras Sauternes from Lidl (€14.99 for 50cl bottle), Chateau Sigalas Rabaud Sauternes (€38.95 for 37.5cl from thecorkscrew.ie) and Chateau de Malle (€31.75 from winesdirect.ie). All classic Sauternes – serve them slightly chilled.
Diznókó Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos (€36.99 for 50cl, Worldwide Wines Waterford). Flavours of ripened fruit with a hint of honey. A stunning wine that goes well with cheese or paté.
Barbeito Malvasia 10 year old (€38.99 for 75cl, Worldwide Wines). A sweet blended wine from Medeira. An excellent accompaniment to blue cheese.
If you don’t want a sweet wine, but would like something to go with cheese, I’d recommend Enseduna Muscat Sec (€13.99, 75cl, The Wine Centre, Kilkenny). It’s from the Languedoc region; tastes of citrus and vanilla with a floral aroma.
If you are ordering dessert wine in a restaurant it is well to check the price. In a Dublin restaurant recently I took the waiter’s recommendation and ordered a Chateau Climens Barsac 2006 – then I noticed the look of horror on the face of my partner who was pointing to the menu where this wine was priced at €26 a glass.
I told the waiter I only wanted to buy some wine, not a share in a vineyard, and reverted to a tried and trusted Sauternes at a third of that price.