Dessert wines are made from overripe grapes that are particularly sweet and aromatic. Grapes are often dehydrated by ‘noble rot’, or botrytis, which lends the wine a honey or medicine flavour.
You can discern notes of peach, apricot, citrus and honey in sweet dessert wines. ‘Noble rot’ dessert wines also have hints of medicine, fresh acidity and intensive, full-bodied sweetness.
The general rule for pairing a dessert with wine is that the wine should be a little sweeter than the food. Dessert wines go best with fresh berry, fruit and cream desserts.
Try dessert wines with cream pudding, white chocolate mousse, Crêpes Suzette, macarons or blue cheese.
Serve sweet dessert wines well-chilled, at 8–10°C. Chilling a bottle from room temperature to the perfect serving temperature takes about three hours in a fridge.
Examples of well-known dessert wines are Sauternes, Tokaji, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein.
‘Noble rot’ dessert wines are among the best wines for ageing. Many of them can be cellared for several decades.