Dessert wines are a sumptuous way to finish off a meal – but which one to choose? Discover famous sweet styles from around the world with this handy guide.
If you want the perfect way to end a delicious meal, or a sweet treat to sip in the evenings, dessert wines are where to look. Different styles of dessert wines are crafted worldwide – from France and Hungary to New Zealand and California – using a variety of intriguing techniques.
As for food matching, dry wines can taste too acidic when paired with sweet dishes, so it’s important to have something that properly complements the sugar in your food. Dessert wines have high levels of sugar themselves – and that’s what makes them such great choices. And it’s not just sweet dishes they pair with; dessert wines create a delicious contrast to salty cheeses.
Explore some of the most popular styles of dessert wine and discover your new favourite.
Noble Rot may sound like an unusual term to associate with wine – but it’s the secret behind the world’s best dessert wines. If the conditions are just right, noble rot, or Botrytis Cinerea, creates tiny holes in a grape’s skin, allowing water to evaporate, which concentrates the sugars, flavours and acids. This method is best known for its premium wines in Bordeaux.
Hungary’s iconic sweet wine is made by fermenting Botrytis-influenced, or aszú, grapes in a base wine made from standard grapes. The sweetness level, measured in puttonyos, depends on the amount of aszú grapes used. Royal Tokaji craft truly opulent examples of this style, with rich notes of orange peel, fig, peach and cinnamon. It’s a match made in heaven with fruit-based desserts like a luscious Christmas pudding.
Try: Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos
It’s not just the Old World that produces delicious wines from noble rot-affected grapes – as acclaimed New Zealand winemaker Brent Marris proves. Made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and part of the ever-popular The Ned collection, this plush wine has flavours of peach, melon, candied grapefruit and ginger. Try it with baked cheesecake.
Try: The Ned Noble Sauvignon Blanc
Muscat grapes are used throughout the world to make sweet wines, where the fermentation process is stopped early – while there’s still plenty of sugar left. This Californian Orange Muscat is a delicious example. It’s full bodied and complex, with flavours of orange, pear and apricot. A great match for rich chocolate pudding.
Try: Andrew Quady 'Essensia' Orange Muscat