December 2005--Wine Recommendations
Dessert Wine Reccommendations
By Thom Elkjer
Dessert wine is actually a misleading name for a category that keeps
expanding all the time. Better to call them sweet wines, and you don’t have to wait
for dessert, either. Most of the wines recommended here could be served with a cheese
course well before dinner – just make sure the cheeses are savory and dry rather than
sweet and creamy, or you could swamp your palate with too much of a good thing. Serve
the wine cool but not cold.
The most important thing to do with sweet wines like these is experiment.
They make great gifts but can languish unloved if people don’t pop them open and start
trying different settings and accompaniments. The holidays are a great time for this,
because you have some time off, plenty of food around, and people to enjoy them with.
||Bonny Doon Syrah Port "Bouteille Call"
($16, half-bottle): if you want to kickstart your holiday dinner parties
into postprandial abandon, bring out this inky purple elixir brimming with
aromas of raspberry Kool-Aid on steroids. Then push the furniture back against
the walls and crank up the music.
Organic Wine Works Black Corinth California "Vinotopia" NV ($23):
Aromas of candied walnuts and pumpkin pie, flavors of sweet red table grapes
and cherry candy, and the mouth-filling texture of port: who knew Black Corinth
had all this to offer? Organically grown to boot.
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Port Paso
Robles "III" ($25, half-bottle): Peachy Canyon is mastering the art of
Zin port slowly but surely. I like this blend (of five different vintages)
the best so far, because it balances the flood of fruit and sugar with
sufficient grip and gravitas. Cigar, anyone?
Chateau Ste. Michelle Late Harvest Semillon Columbia Valley Reserve 2000 ($26, half-bottle): Semillon
is one of the kings of dessert wine in France, and this is a luscious, dependable,
supremely affordable domestic version. A little goes a long way, so no additional
Honig Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford
Napa Valley 2002 ($50, half-bottle): Honig brings its mastery of Sauvignon Blanc
to dessert wine in this drippingly unctuous elixir: lively flavors, great balance,
exceptional refreshment. A California classic in a swanky package.
Peju Province Late Harvest Chardonnay Napa Valley "Lianna" 2002 ($60, half-bottle): My personal
favorite among the few available dessert Chardonnays; smells good, tastes good, feels good,
finishes well and comes in a sexy package.
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