For you “big red” (very dry) drinkers who stay away from the sweet stuff, it is time to venture out of your comfort zone. Yes, these wines are all sweet, but not in a white zinfandel style—it’s more like a chocolate, honey, or rich-lemon-curd sense. Think of it this way—after a big meal, what’s wrong with a slice of chocolate cake? This is the liquid equivalent. You only need a little bit (two or three ounces) and the general pairing “rules” are simple: white dessert wines with fruit, cream, or custard-based sweets; red dessert wines with chocolate.
This month's selections are available at Red Lion Liquors, 12400 Nicollet Ave., Burnsville, 952-890-4000
Robert Pecota Moscato d’Andrea 2001 (Napa Valley), $12.99 (375ml)
With a nose of honey and citrus, this wine is surprisingly crisp and sweet, but not cloying. Great with any apple dessert or a lemon-curd tart.
Bogle Petite Sirah Port 2002 (Clarksburg, California) $18.99 (500ml)
It tastes like a mix of raspberries, blackberries, and chocolate. This truly luscious wine will make double-chocolate cake jump for joy in your mouth.
Graham’s 20-Year Tawny Porto (Oporto, Portugal) $29.99 (375ml)
Real Porto is only from Portugal. Others are port-style wines. This porto, which is aged twenty years in a cask, is complex, with flavors of vanilla, raisin, and nuts. A cool accompaniment for tawny is nearly any blue cheese or softer cheese and walnuts.
Matzin Late Harvest Zinfandel 2001 (Lodi, California) $16.59 (500ml)
This is zinfandel as dessert, rich and spicy! With flavors of plum, cassis, and blackberry, the wine pairs nicely with chocolate or poured over really good vanilla ice cream. These grapes were very ripe at harvest for a very high sugar content and then fermentation was stopped—leaving a very rich, sweet wine that still has alcohol content.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.