A dessert wine is the perfect way to end a meal and can be enjoyed alongside or instead of pudding. Once considered to be rather old-fashioned and often only cracked open after Christmas meals, dessert wines are very varied and can be drunk after any type of cuisine, from traditional roasts to spicy Thai or Indian meals.
The wines fall in to five broad categories: sparkling, semi-sweet, richly sweet, sweet red wine and fortified wine. French Sauternes, Hungarian tokaji and the fortified wines are the most well-known, but most wine-producing countries will also manufacture some variety of sweet wine.
Ranging in price from under £10 to well in to the hundreds of pounds, there’s a dessert wine to suit every pocket and every type of food (http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/food/631994/The-7-best-dessert-wines).
If in doubt, speak to a specialist independent outlet, like online wine merchants in Northern Ireland such as http://thewinecompanyni.com/.
Light Sweet Wines
Lighter than fortified or the rich sweet types, these work well after spicy food. The most well known of these originated in Germany and eastern France: Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Muller-Thurgau. Chenin Blanc produced in the US is much sweeter than its counterparts from France.
These are some of the best known of the dessert wines and are often aged for many years. Hungarian Tokaji, French Sauternes and South African Constantia are notable examples, but there are many others to look out for, such as the German Auslese and Eiswein, Italian Vin Santo and Greek Samos and Vinsanto.
Champagne and other sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava are usually quite dry, but lots of sweeter varieties are readily available. Look out for demi-sec, semi-secco or amabile, which all mean slightly sweet or off-dry or doux, dulce or dolce, which means sweet.
Italy is the main producer of sweet red wines, and they are far less common than other types of dessert wines. Look out for red Lambrusco, Freisa, Schiava or Recioto della Valpolicella.
These are produced by adding grape brandy to wine. Port, Madeira and Sherry are all fortified and come in their own specific categories, which range from the very rich to very dry. Port varieties are all sweet, whereas Madeira and Sherry can also be very dry, and these types are often drunk chilled before a meal.