Dessert Wines are called “Pudding Wines” in the UK, and “stickies” by Australians.
Many people everywhere these days, though, would also call them unfashionable.
They are very sweet wines designed to be served at the end of a meal. In contrast, wines that you drink with a meal are often called “table wines.”
There are four groups of sweet wines:
- Sparkling sweet wines (such as Asti);
- Demi-sec Champagnes; and
- “Botrytised” sweet wines.
“Botrytised” sweet wines are those whose grapes were allowed to remain on the vines in autumn and shrivel, concentrating the flavour and sugar in the grapes. “Botrytised” wines include Sauternes, Barsac, and Tokay, as well as some botrytised Semillons are made in Australia.
Most people usually think white when they think of sweet wines, but red dessert wines include Port, Sherry, Vin Santo and Madeira, and newer specialty wines, such as Banfi Brachetto d’Acqui (a sparkling red from Acqui, Piedmont.)
The flavours of sweet food and dry wines can clash. Very sweet desserts need quite sweet wines, while lighter desserts such as fruit salads may be better with just a semi-dry wine. Some say that a rule of thumb is to serve a dessert wine as sweet as the dessert is — and that if you need to, plan the dessert itself around the dessert wine.
You don’t need large glasses or servings of Dessert Wines, as the flavour is very powerful. Consequently, they are often sold in half bottles (375 ml.)
You need to serve them in fresh glasses — not the ones that have been used throughout the meal.
In cooking, a table wine plus some added sugar.