Posts tagged #Dessert Wine

Easy Does It on the Sweet Stuff

Sally and I like a good dessert wine from time to time.

It can go well when paired with the perfect dessert, like this port with chocolate bread pudding combination. Other times, it’s perfect on its own.

Dessert wine has two characteristics that distinguish it from other wines. First, dessert wine tends to be sweeter. Check out this great overview on five types of dessert wine from Wine Folly.

The second characteristic of dessert wine is it typically has a higher alcohol content. According to U.S. law, dessert wine must have between 14 and 24 percent alcohol.


The extra sugar and higher alcohol content means dessert wine should be consumed in much smaller amounts than regular wine. It’s often served in smaller dessert wine glasses for this reason. 

Be careful - drinking dessert wine in larger volumes can lead to a rough morning and plenty of regret. That’s not a fun way to share a bottle.


There is an extra benefit to opening a bottle of dessert wine.

You can keep an open bottle of dessert wine for much longer than you would a regular wine. We typically keep a bottle of dessert wine for up to two weeks after opening it and don’t notice a significant degradation in flavor.

The next time you open a bottle of dessert wine, go ahead and sip it. There’s no rush since you know it will keep for awhile!

Posted on July 17, 2014 .

Wine with Chocolate Cake? You bet!

Many of my friends will be happy to hear that January 27 is Chocolate Cake Day.  I’m not much of a baker and chocolate cake is typically not my top dessert choice. But, pair it with a yummy wine, and I’m in!  There are actually a number of wines that would pair well with a gooey chocolate cake, and some may surprise you.  Here are a few recommendations.  If you don’t bake…find a friend that does and bribe them with wine, or just grab a bottle and share it over a slice from your favorite bakery!


Ports pair well with a big slice of dark chocolate cake.  Not long ago, I challenged my dear friend who shares some pretty tasty recipes over at A Girl In The South to put together a gooey chocolate dessert to pair with one of my favorite ports, Heitz Ink Grade.  Man, did she hit the nail on the head with this one (check it out).  

Port-Style Dessert Wine

Try a port-style dessert wine with a slice of black forest or red velvet cake. One of my personal favorites with the Cuvaison Espiritu.  This is a port-style wine made with Petite Syrah grapes and fortified with brandy.  YUM.  

Sparkling Wine

A dry or rose sparkling wine would pair well with any slice of cake.  To get a nice dry sparkling, pick out a brut.  One of my favorites is Roederer Estate, which can be found at larger beverage stores and usually under $20!  

Cabernet Sauvignon

That’s right.  A the right cab will pair well with chocolate cake.  Did you stock up on ding dongs with the crash of Hostess??  Open up a fruity cab and dive in!  I’d recommend a bottle of Niner.  It is a softer cabernet with subtle flavors.  It would balance the chocolate rather than compete with it.  

What wine would you pair with a slice of chocolate cake?

Posted on January 25, 2013 and filed under Wine Discoveries.

Dessert Wine Discovery~Sweet as a “First Kiss”

We discovered Andrew Murray Vineyards (AMV) tasting room in downtown Los Olivos on our recent tour of California wine regions. As we walked in, my eye was drawn to a series of wines with whimsical labels with two people doing various fun activities. We quickly learned the wines are a special label for AMV called “Days Off”, dedicated to making wines from non-Rhone varieties (the AMV label specializes in Rhone varieties). Production is very limited and are available exclusively in the Los Olivos tasting room, or online. 

Those fun people on the label are “Stan & Barbara”, and each of the labels illustrates them spending their “Days Off” together. The labels usually illustrate them on romantic adventures, with a hint of nostalgia to remind us of simpler times when “we all worked less and enjoyed life more”. 

We had the opportunity to taste the ’09 “Lake Day”, which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (45%), Chenin Blanc (45%) and a splash of Riesling (5%), and the ’09 “Road Trip”, a super-Tuscan inspired red wine blended with 80% Sangiovese, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet.  These were quite enjoyable.  "Lake Day" was very crisp and refreshing – perfect for summer, and the "Road Trip" was a heavier red without being overly bold – drinkable as I would say, ‘from ingredients to dessert’. 

Speaking of dessert – the wine that put a big smile on my face was “First Kiss”.  The label alone causes you to smirk.  Flirty, and brilliant, as Barbara’s phone number is that of the tasting room.  I typically do not care for dessert wines, as I find them a little too sweet for my taste.  This one was different.  While it is a traditionally crafted ‘port’ style wine dominated by the Touriga grape, the curveball is that they fortify it with cognac. There was a definite cognac nose, and had a mellow berry taste, making it not overly sweet, just simply delicious.  This balance makes it a perfect pairing with dark chocolate, or a nice stilton.  Price point is slightly above average for a dessert wine at $20/bottle, but it is well worth it for this rare dessert wine!

Check out all of the “Days Off” collection online, or if in the area, stop by the tasting room for a sample.  They currently have a promotion - mention you’d like the “tasting2fer” and you will receive two tasting for the price of one!


Posted on July 6, 2011 and filed under Wine Discoveries.

2006 Espiritu Dessert Wine from Cuvaison

It's no secret that Cuvaison is one of our favorite wineries since they make so many great varietals. Last night, we opened a bottle of their 2006 Espiritu Dessert wine. It's a port-style wine made with Petite Syrah grapes and fortified with brandy that makes a delicious combination. The wine maker's notes suggest this wine could age for many years, but there's no way we could wait that long - this stuff is good!
The trick to a good dessert wine is balance, since there are many flavors happening at once. There's sweetness, the alcohol, the fruit, and in port-style wines there's also brandy. Espiritu does a great job of achieving great balance -- not too sweet with very nice fruit. Lesser quality port-style wines can taste like too much caramel, too much alcohol, or too syrupy.
One note -- in our haste to drink this wine we paired it with a bowl of ice cream. It wasn't a great match, so we first enjoyed our ice cream and then enjoyed a glass of Espiritu. A good rule of thumb when pairing dessert wine with food is to pick a dessert that isn't quite as sweet as the wine. Fortunately, there's plenty left in the bottle to get it right the next time we have a glass!

Posted on March 4, 2010 and filed under Wine Discoveries.


Last weekend, we hosted a dinner party, all about Pinot's. We started the night with an '06 Chalone Pinot Blanc (Chalone Appellation) ~ delicate yet crisp ~ a nice way to start a night of pinots.

Before dinner, we did a blind tasting of four pinots we purchased in our '09 travels:

'06 Wattle Creek (Yorkville Highlands)
'06 Cuvaison (Carneros, Napa Valley)
'06 Sokol Blosser (Dundee Hills, OR)
'04 Chateau Souverain (Russian River Valley)

After enjoying a few tastes with a selection of soft cheeses, we each selected our favorites. No surprises that the Cuvaison and Sokol Blosser were at the top of everyone's list, followed by Wattle Creek, and a distant 4th was Souverain. The Cuvaison was very smooth, easy to drink, with well balanced flavors. The Sokol Blosser had similar characteristics, with a more 'earthy' taste than the fruitier Cuvaison. Wattle Creek was quite enjoyable as well. The Souverain, while a solid wine, just didn't measure up to the others.

Dinner was a very pinot-friendly menu: beef brisket, roasted root vegetables, and mixed wild mushroom rice. We all enjoyed the rest of the wine with dinner and noted how the characteristics of each wine seemed to change a bit when paired with the meal. The Souverain Pinot Noir even rose to the top of one of our guest's lists!
After the meal, we finished the night with an '08 Erath Sweet Harvest Pinot Blanc (Dundee Hills, OR) ~ super delicious ~ sweet (but not too sweet), with an almost smokey finish. A definite repeat purchase!

A fun night ~ and a great way to clear out some inventory!

Posted on January 17, 2010 and filed under Tasting Experiences.