Sweet Surrender

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 16, 2017
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The last hurrah, the final fling, the piece de resistance, the ‘desserty’ thing. There is so much pressure on the last drink, the sweet surrender before calling it a night. For too long dessert wine has been forgotten, with the sector left to tequila shots or other spirits. There is now, however, a far more glorious way to end the night – with dessert wine.

These glorious, sweet elixirs have sadly been lumped together with bad sweet wine of yesteryear, cloying, cheap and unpleasant. As a result we have lost some of our sweet tooth, and it is not a good thing for our dessert stomachs or the wine industry for that matter. Dessert wine and liqueurs however, can transform a dinner into a well-rounded meal, and it is one of the easiest food and drink matches there is. Indulge your sweet tooth with one of these simple pairings.

Chocolate and Fortified Wine

Fortified wine is a broad category - the addition of pure spirit to sweet, slightly alcoholic new wine. A famous grape for such wine production is Pedro Ximenez, originally from Spain, and thankfully slowly ageing in many cellars in South Australia too. The Dandelion Vineyards Legacy Pedro Ximenez is a perfect foil for chocolate based desserts; even a simple panforte or decadent chocolate brownie would be beautiful. It’s luscious and velvety and has wonderful notes of brown sugar and raisins.

Zabaglione and Cane Cut Semillon

If you have a friend who can cook or even just use a whisk, ask them to whip up a an easy zabaglione. This lightning fast custard-like creation screams out for the addition of some fresh fruit. If mangoes are in season they will work a treat. With this you will want a lighter dessert wine, a late harvest style (without botrytis). Vasse Felix Cane Cut Semillon is made by cutting the vine after the fruit is ripe so that the grapes have no more access to water. The grapes shrivel and lose water, which concentrates the sugars and flavours. This style of winemaking results in a fresh and beautifully sweet wine without the deeper, more robust flavour associated with classic botrytis styles.

Berry Pudding and Champagne Cocktail

If you are hosting a midafternoon get together, after lunch but before dinner then impress with our take on the classic Kir Royale. Use Crème de Mure Massenez, an intense and full-flavoured blackberry liqueur. This cocktail with a fresh berry summer pudding and a dollop of cream will be a wonderful match. To prepare this at home simply add 30ml of Mazzenez (for an intense blackberry flavour) to your favourite sparkling wine. Prosecco works well, or if you’re splashing out Champagne is even better. For this to work with dessert look for a sparkling wine with a little sugar to balance the sugar in the dessert. Ensure the liqueur is chilled too so it doesn’t make the bubbles warm.

Revamped Honey Joys and Whisky-Based Liqueur

Here’s a little tip to turn leftover honey joys – the popular honey-coated cornflake treat – into a party favour for grownups. You’ll need to melt some dark chocolate (more than 60% cocoa), add a pinch of salt and drizzle liberally over the honey joys. This is best served with a small amount of a whiskey-based liqueur like Drambuie over ice. The main difference between Drambuie and a standard whisky is the added sugar. A liqueur will often have over 100 grams per litre of sugar, making this a delectable after dark drink with something sweet to nibble.

We spend so much time finding the right match for the savoury courses, it’s time we gave in to our dessert stomachs and helped them out with some delicious pairings too.