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Tasting Notes: Dessert Recommendations
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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.

Tasting Notes: Bonny Doon Syrah Port “Bouteille Call” 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.
Tasting Notes: Organic Wine Works Black Corinth California “Vinotopia” NV

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.

Tasting Notes: Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Port Paso Robles

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?

Tasting Notes: Chateau Ste. Michelle Late Harvest Semillon Columbia Vallley Reserve 2000

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 dessert required.

Tasting Notes: Honig Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford Napa Valley  2002

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.

Tasting Notes: Peju Province Late Harvest Chardonnay Napa Valley

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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