Wine & Spirits

Life's Short, Have Dessert First

Dessert wines

March in Minnesota can wear on you. But if you look on the bright side, little things can give you a pick-me-up, like dessert. Dessert wines are often overlooked, but they are a great way to add something special to an evening, whether it’s a formal dinner or a quick visit with friends.

Selection from The Wine Shop, 17521 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, 952-988-9463,

Chateau Menate Sauternes 2008

(Sauternes, Bordeaux, France)
Grape: Semillon, sauvignon blanc
Price: $35.99
Sauternes is a wine and a place. Dessert wines from here are elegant, complex, and age-worthy. Full of honey and vanilla components with beautifully balanced acid, this wine is rich but not syrupy.
Pairing: Neal’s Yard Stilton Blue from France 44 Cheese Shop or a lemon bar from Broders’ Cucina.

Matzin Late Harvest

Zinfandel 2005 (Lodi, California)
Grape: Zinfandel
Price: $21.99
This one is harvested late for higher sugar content, and the fermentation is stopped to leave sweet notes of strawberry and blackberry. Don’t worry, the spice remains—it’s even a bit dry on the finish with good tannic acid.
Pairing: Chocolate opera cake from Chez Arnaud Bakery.

Kracher Auslese Cuvee 2010

(Burgenland, Austria)
Grape: Welschriesling, chardonnay
Price: $19.99
The complexity of this wine was a huge surprise. You get tart apples and ripe pear, honeysuckle and caramel. Styled like a very expensive Sauternes, the finish lasts for what seems like five minutes.
Pairing: The apple crisp from the Salty Tart—get a little of the wonderful caramel to drizzle over the top.

Isole e Olena

Vin Santo 2004 (Tuscany, Italy)
Grape: Malvasia bianca, trebbiano
Price: $62.99
These grapes are dried for three months to concentrate the sugars, then pressed and fermented with a wine/yeast mix from the previous year, and finally aged for six years in oak and chestnut barrels. The end result is a sweet, fruity, nutty wine with caramel and burnt orange on the finish. Wow.
Pairing: Bread pudding from Heartland Market.