The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

How To Gift a Dessert Wine

Posted on | December 9, 2015 | Written by Emery Long | No Comments

Antonio Ferrari Solaria Jonica 1959Dessert wines come in a cornucopia of styles and flavors, and Italy produces some of the best, if not the best, selection of these voluptuous elixirs—and just about all of them are perfect pairings for one holiday treat or another. They’re also tremendous gifts. Today, I’d like to help guide you in selecting a sweet wine for the holidays, whether for yourself or for a fortunate recipient.

First, consider whether this gift is for someone with a lighter palate, a person who appreciates less complicated, fruity and light desserts—or if it’s destined for an individual with a decadent palate who reaches for heavier, cream-driven desserts. Perhaps you’re shopping for a collector who would be floored by a limited edition bottle—or maybe the wine is for someone who is just getting into wine. There are dessert wines to fit all these palate constraints.

Some dessert wines are used to refresh and tempt the palate, like a Bracchetto d’Aqui whose light effervescence and spritzy summer fruit flavors are easy to understand (and really great to pair with chocolate). Some dessert wines stir the senses through contrasting aromas, textures, and flavors; Antinori’s Castello della Sala Muffatto blends Sauvignon Blanc, Grechetto, Traminer, and Riesling, four grapes prized for their textural and aromatic qualities. Still other dessert wines are used to wake up your tired palate after the large meal, like Begali’s Recioto della Valpolicella Classico with its savory-sweet oscillation between deep, dark flavors; these help you to appreciate the decadent dessert to come.

Unlike Prosecco, dessert wines are not typically wines to dance and laugh your way through care-free nights. No, dessert wines are an enigma, a symphonic offering from winemakers that invites its drinker to indulge in the rich flavor and urges you to stay at the table for one more drink. When giving dessert wines, think about not just the wine, but also what kind of dessert or meal your gift recipient enjoys. This imbues the wine with a sense of place and purpose.

Desserts wine pair with sweet treats that range from light sugar cookies, decadent but airy cakes, chocolates, confections, candied fruit, traditional Christmas pudding—the list is endless. When selecting a dessert wine for a gift, it’s all about the pairing. Keep in mind your aim of the bottle: whether you want to contrast or complement flavor, texture, or aroma. To complement, think about matching acidities with a warm lemon cake paired with a bright and citrusy Tuscan dessert wine. Or use the wine to contrast textures with sleek dark chocolate and a velvety Antonio Ferrari Solaria Jonica 1959.

A gift of your home-baked cookies and a bottle of dessert wine takes your humble, heartfelt treats and raises them to a new, sophisticated level. More than an unexpected joy, dessert wines remind the people on your holiday list that life is sweet, and they should savor every moment.


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