Anatomy of a Well-Rounded Dessert Wine Menu

A perfectly-balanced dessert wine menu does not just happen: much thoughtfulness and love goes into it before its vibrant siren song emerges at your table, beckoning you to sample a naughty sip. I had the good fortune to sit down with Andrew Bresnik, Wine Director of Bricco della Regina Anna and learn how a well-rounded dessert wine menu is born and how you can work your way through it.

Bricco is a delightful neighborhood wine bar and bistro tucked into the charming urban promenade of Seattle’s Queen Anne area. Chef and owner Kevin Erickson started the place in 2005, inspired by travels though Italy’s Piemonte and Barolo regions, as well as a well-known New York enoteca. Bricco offers artisanal cheeses, cured meats and a host of seasonal and local delectables, accompanied by a fantastic wine list influenced by Italy, Washington State and other gems Andrew might come across. The interior’s dark wood coziness allows you to warmly settle in as you gaze upon an impressive floor to ceiling wine cabinet running the length of the tables – with a wise glass partition to keep out those gazing just a bit too longingly. Casually upscale, Bricco is a wine-lover’s alternative to the local pub when meeting friends and loved ones.

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Andrew, who grew up in the restaurant business after starting off as a bus boy in his Aunt’s restaurant at the tender age of thirteen, climbed onboard the Bricco train in October and always offered dessert wines verbally to his patrons. But as people started asking more questions and slowly started dabbling into the dessert wine world, he felt the need to offer a printed dessert wine menu to aid people in decision making. But what to offer from the array of options out there?

“Dessert wine is still a relatively small niche here in Seattle, “ Andrew says, “I think this is the number one Port consuming city in the U.S., probably due to all the cold, rainy nights, but that is the extent of many people’s dessert wine repertoire.” Although he gets many requests, especially from young women, for a “sweeter” wine alternative to heavy or tannic reds, people still have a misconception about dessert wines in general. “Many people think anything termed as a ‘sweet’ wine is bad or cheap due to their past experiences. The term ‘dessert wine’ might even conjure up something overly synthesized, “ Andrew laments. He loves dessert wines and likes to encourage his customers to learn more, especially those who want something fun or unique.

In that spirit, the formal Bricco dessert wine list just came hot off the press in January. Andrew and I walked through it in hopes of helping you navigate just such a wine list on your next dinner out.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.