Showing posts with label sweet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweet. Show all posts

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Sweet Wines for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day gifts usually center around chocolates or flowers.  While those are great choices - you'll hear no argument about either from my valentine - dessert wines have the sweet and pretty angles covered in both aroma and taste.

If your valentine is a wine lover, a dessert wine is the perfect gift idea.  Sweet, floral aromas and luscious candy-like flavors make dessert wine a natural choice for the sweetest person in your life.  Anyway, they taste so much better than those awful candy hearts.

As you may expect, dessert wines are great for dessert, or as an addition to dessert.  They also pair well with blue cheese and you can even liven up a lobster dinner with a sweet wine.

Here are some dessert wines you may want to look into as a gift on the sweetest day of the year:

Sauternes is a sweet Bordeaux white wine.  Sauternes wines can get very expensive, but many affordable examples can be found in the $20 to $30 range for a half-bottle.

A Hungarian wine known as Tokaji (pronounced to-kay) is a sweet white wine often called "the king of wines and the wine of kings."  At least that's what Louis XIV called it.

Italian Brachetto is not extremely sweet - call it off-dry - but it's a sparkling red wine and is certainly a festive choice for Valentine's Day.

An Icewine from Austria, Germany, Canada or New York State will also please sweet-craving palates.

Port is a sweet wine, although it's fortified with brandy or grape spirits and the alcohol level is a bit higher than most dessert wines.  Real Port comes only from Portugal, but Port-style wines are made just about everywhere.

California's Rosenblum Cellars makes a treat called Désirée.  It's a Port-style wine made from Zinfandel and two Portuguese grape varieties, infused with chololate.  It can certainly set a romantic mood all by itself.

Thursday, December 2, 2010



The onset of cold weather makes many wine lovers turn their attention to Port wine.  You may know Port only as something to "take the chill off," so here's a little bit of information about Port wines.

Port is a sweet wine, with an alcohol content higher than most table wines, higher even than many dessert wines.  Port is commonly used as a dessert companion or dessert itself.  It pairs quite well with cheese, especially blue cheese.

The only place Port, or Porto, can be made is in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, much like Champagne can only come from Champagne, France.  There are many areas around the world which produce Port-style wines, though.

Port is produced by fortifying wine with neutral grape spirits.  It's often said that Port is fortified with brandy.  That is often a mistaken notion.  The fortification creates a higher residual sugar and alcohol level.  Port wine generally has an alcohol level of 18% to 20%.

There are five grape varieties which are widely used in the making of red Port wine - Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão and Tinta Roriz, which is also known as Tempranillo.  That's the only non-indigenous grape used in making Port.

White Port is made from white grapes - Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho.  Grapes used in making Port are regulated by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto.  Port wine made in other areas may be made from many different grape varieties.

Tawny Ports are Ports which have been aged in wood barrels for ten, 20, 30 or even 40 years.  Popular brands of Tawny Port include Dow's, Graham's and Taylor's, which are seen on many restaurant menus.

Roxo Port Cellars of Paso Robles, California makes nothing but Port-style wines.  They utilize Bordeaux and Italian grape varieties as well as traditional Portuguese varieties.

Ficklin Vineyards in Madera, California makes a Tinta Port, a Tawny Port, a white Port and vintage Ports.  Their Port-style wines have won numerous awards and generate tons of good press.

The Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Collection Port 2006 employs traditional and non-traditional varieties: Touriga Nacional, Charbono, Tempranillo and Petite Sirah.

From California's Santa Ynez Valley, Bridlewood offers a Syrah Port 2006.  Listen to these descriptive words from the the winemaker: "heady aromatics of blackberry, cassis and licorice…notes of strong dark chocolate with hints of pecan, tangerine peel and earth…luscious licorice finish."

Paso Robles' EOSZinfandel Port 2006 sounds like it was made with the holidays in mind:"...aromas of molasses, roasted walnuts and maple syrup fill the nose....nutty characters glide across the palate with essence of plums andespresso...spiciness, cedar, and cinnamon linger on the ... extendedfinish."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tasting Notes: Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d'Asti 2007

The Bottle: There's a lot of Italian on the label, but even with my limited multi-lingual abilities there's enough English to give me a pretty good idea what's going on. Moscato d'Asti wines come from Italy's Piedmont region, in the northwest near the town of Asti. They are low alcohol wines by law - 5.5% abv. I bought this little gem for $16 in a Glendale wine store my wife and I like to frequent, although far too infrequently. Rosso Wine Shop, 3459 1/2 N. Verdugo Road, has a great selection of Italian wines. Jeff Zimmitti has Spanish, French and Californian in there, too, but we always seem to linger in the Italian aisle. Jeff puts on a nice tasting, too, every weekend. Oh yeah, the wine was Cascinetta Vietti 2007.

The Nose: The aromas were a little hard for me to get, as the wine was cold. It seemed to be rather floral and peachy.

The Taste: The taste certainly didn't hide, though. It was sweet and fizzy - not a full-fledged sparkling wine, but with enough bubbles to make it worthy of a special occasion, or a special person. The feel is quite full in the mouth, and the fizziness seems to give it a bit of an edge. Honeyed apples and pears were in the forefront, and a rather nutty note made itself known in the pleasant finish. It was a lush delight, and a wonderful change-of-pace wine if you go in for such a thing. And why shouldn't you?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tasting Notes: Rideau Vineyard Riesling 2007

The Bottle: The slender bottle would suggest either Mosel or Alsace, but it's clear glass. If they're breaking the rules, it must be California. Rideau is in the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang is the official address, although it seems to be closer to Los Olivos. This Riesling is labeled as La Presa Vineyard and cost $22 at the tasting room. The ABV is 12.1%.

The Nose: I get a nose full of flowers from this wine, a wonderful aromatic scent that I would say is honeysuckle, but might well be some other fresh and fragrant flower scent.

The Taste: It's a fairly sweet wine, as you might guess by the ABV. The flavors are honey and apricots, to my palate. Not a lot of acidity, so I didn't even try to pair it with food. I simply enjoyed it, sipping it on the deck after the wife and I came home from a hard days' labor through a half hour drive up Laurel Canyon Boulevard. It may be a sipper, but it's a good sipper. Good sippers are underrated, in my book. The price tag was a bit high for this type of wine. You could pick up a very nice Riesling easily for under $15 most anywhere. But it did serve to remind me of a very nice trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, and a very nice stop at a fun little tasting room.