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Dessert Wines

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | March 26, 2011

Dessert wines are usually sweet and a great way to end your meal on a more luscious note. There are many styles and types of dessert wine. All dessert wines are sweeter than traditional wines. Dessert wine is meant to be enjoyed following the main course of a meal. Dessert wines are too sweet to drink with a main course, although some people enjoy them before a meal as an aperitif (a before-dinner drink to stimulate the appetite). The more acidic, lighter wines are enjoyed during a meal. Acidic wines open the palate while sweet wines close it.

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A dessert wine is a wine that is potent, sweet, and full of flavor. It is because of their sweet flavor the wine complements a dessert. Extra spirits are often added to raise the alcohol content. In general, dessert wines are thicker, richer, and sweeter than table wines. The grapes are picked late in the harvest to preserve remaining sugars. The earliest dessert wines were often not as sweet because they had not completely fermented. The sweetness of modern dessert wines is often a result of their naturally occurring sugars (glucose and fructose), which increase the longer a grape ripens on the vine. Like other wines, a dessert wine is defined by the type of grape it is made from, where it's grown, and how it is produced. The best dessert wines should have all the characteristics that wine lovers look for, the inviting aromas, complex flavors and smooth textures with flavorful and memorable finishes. Dessert wines can enhance your dessert, bringing out its inherent flavors.

Dessert wines contain flavors like peach, almond, oak, and herbs, which allow them to show off their flavor, and add a tang to even the lightest dessert. Adding them to a sweet cream or pastry dessert always creates a wonderful combination. Examples include fortified wines like port and sherry, and late harvest wines, which originated from grapes that have shriveled a bit, adding to their sweetness. As a rule of thumb, a dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert it accompanies.

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Dessert wines are usually sold in half-bottles. They come in small bottles and are served in tiny glasses. An average pour is 2 ounces. Dessert wines are traditionally sold in the smaller 375ml bottles. The smaller quantity reflects the way these sweet wines are to be drunk. You should sip and not gulp small amounts of a dessert wine after a meal. Packaging the wine in a smaller bottle means there is less wine to spoil before it is all used.

You can purchase your own bottles of dessert wines, as well as order a glass at some of the more upscale restaurants. Some of the world's great dessert wines include Madeira, Vermouth, Marsala, Sherry, Cream Sherry, and Port. Like dinner wines, white dessert wines are generally served chilled. Red dessert wines are served at room temperature or slightly chilled. Dessert wines are especially good served with fruits and fresh baked sweets. It is best to save heavier tastes for winter, lighter tastes for summer.

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