Decadent Dessert Wines: The Language of Labels

As we roll into fall and winter, thoughts of roaring fires, cashmere sweaters, and elegant dinner parties are filling my head. And with this in mind, “Red on Reds” is taking a slight detour into the sumptuous world of dessert wines: What are they, what do they pair well with, and how sweet is sweet?

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Dessert wines in general are defined as sweet wines, made from either red or white grapes. They can be sipped alone or with rich, sweet goodies. When pairing, it is recommended you choose a wine that is slightly sweeter than the food companion. Many dessert wines taste best paired with cheese or fruit – and we’ll address such pairings in a future column.

Some dessert wines are meant to be served chilled, but there are conflicting reports out there that say room temperature is best so as not to tone down the sweetness. It’s best to check with the wine shop owner or consult the winery’s website for more info. A buffet of flavors abound in dessert wines such as pear, raisin, caramel, peach and almond, to name just a few, which also contributes to their range of sweetness.

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.