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, wineshopminnetonka.com
Chateau Menate Sauternes 2008
(Sauternes, Bordeaux, France)
Grape: Semillon, sauvignon blanc
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)
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
Grape: Welschriesling, chardonnay
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
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.