Five dessert-perfect holiday sippers
Remember how when you were little, you couldn't stand broccoli? That's because your palate hadn't matured enough to appreciate all of its crunchy-sweet goodness. Now that you're all grown up, you've probably asked for double portions in your weekly fresh market produce delivery basket, you're so in love with the stuff.
Dessert wines are like the broccoli of the wine world: sadly, too many people are still clinging to old-school perceptions and haven't figured out how great they really are. Put another way, if you like wine, there is absolutely no sensible reason that you're not drinking dessert wines.
Here's hoping that my Valentine's Day post dedicated to sweet sippers talked most of you dessert wine skeptics off the ledge. And with the holidays right around the corner, now seems like the perfect time to gift you with five even more mind-blowingly delicious dessert wines.
Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2003 ($35, 375ML): O holy wine, o holy wine! No, that's not some strange drunken version of a Christmas carol; holy wine is the English translation for the Italian "vin santo." This particularly stellar version blends Chianti Classico-bred grape varietals trebbiano and malvasia into one glorious glass of nutty, caramel-y goodness. Ideal dessert pairing? Pecan pie, or any other treat featuring copious amounts of nuts and butter. Good to know fact: Badia a Coltibuono was founded in 1051 by the Vallombrosan Order, a Tuscan reform of the Benedictine Monks, who planted the first vineyards in the Chianti region. You bet your ass that after almost a thousand years of winemaking, you should give this one a shot.
Jackson Triggs Proprietors' Reserve Vidal Icewine 2007 ($23, 187ML): This wine could be the game-changer for you. It certainly was for six self-proclaimed dessert wine haters, who fell into a kind of happy trance after drinking this wine paired with a freakishly good bourbon-pumpkin cheesecake with sour cream topping. Their altered state was likely brought on by the wine's swoon-worthy flavor profile -- reminiscent of several fleshy, juicy slices of mango and peach dipped in a pot of honey and consumed with abandon. Second runner-up dessert pairing: a wedge of Stilton and a handful of gingersnaps.
Sandeman Royal Ambrosante 20 Year Old Solera Pedro Ximenez Sherry NV ($24, 500 ML): If Pedro Ximenez (or P-to-the-X, as it's known in some circles) was an actual man, and not a wine, I'd probably marry him. Seriously. Luscious caramel, toasted almond, fragrant vanilla bean...the list of its enticing qualities is practically endless. And if you're already into tawny ports, then this ripe, complex sherry will be right up your alley. Ideal dessert pairing: warm sticky toffee cake topped with vanilla gelato or pumpkin-chocolate chip challah bread pudding with caramel sauce.
Barros Vintage Ruby Port 2003 ($20, 750ML): Sometimes ruby ports are dismissed out of hand as being somewhat of a beginner's dessert wine, but that's so not the case with this elegant, infinitely quaffable wine. It's fruity, to be sure, but once you get past your initial impression tasting of prune, fig and cocoa, you'll be rewarded with finely balanced acidity, whiffs of subtle herbs and toasted oak. Ideal dessert pairing: bittersweet chocolate truffles.
Marolo Grappa & Chamomile Liqueur NV ($26, 375ML): Let's say you're a fan of the stronger stuff...say, bourbon, cognac, maybe even Jäger. Then grappa is about to become your new best friend. You could joke about how grappa is like the schwag weed of the wine world 'cause it's made using all the stems, sticks and seeds, but then you'd be missing the point. This distinctively smoky, chamomile-infused digestif is just the thing to make room for a little something sweet after that third helping of stuffing. Ideal dessert pairing: a red wine-poached pear with sweetened mascarpone and Chantilly cream.
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