If you are a food connoisseur, a passionate foodie or simply someone who enjoys the delights of fine dining you are probably familiar with dessert wines. Recently we had a little get together with several chef friends. Somehow at each of these gatherings regardless of how hard we try the conversation always turns into food. On this occasion someone was curious about the origin of the common phrase “From soup to nuts.” Lucky for us in addition to chefs we had a sweet friend with a background in culinary history and with a few twists and turns she told us how in a formal multi-course meal as recently as 1970 it would be a standard for soup to be the first course and nuts to be the closing bite. As the culinary experience has evolved the presentation of nuts as last course has all but disappeared.
Here in Napa a good meal comes to a closing with a good dessert wine. Purists tell us a dessert wine is to be presented alone after dessert. Here in Napa however, many culinary professionals and wine aficionados are inclined to pair dessert wines with sweets, fruits, mild cheeses and even cigars. Generally dessert wines are categorized into five groups: sparkling, lightly sweet, richly sweet, sweet red & fortified. Because food and wine is what we do we could not help but ask our guests to share their favorites and pair them for us as they saw appropriate. Here are their top picks:
Dolce by Far Niente
This wine is a magnificent blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, it has a joyful acidity and if you let it sit in your palate for just a few moments you will discover apricot, orange, pear, honey and vanilla. We are particularly fond of the 2006 when a timely infection of botrytis resulted in sweetness so complete the wine scored 98 on Wine Enthusiast. We love to pair this wine with figs filled with a mild goat cheese and drizzled with lavender honey
Dulce Beso by Ceja
This stainless steel fermented beauty also received the sweet providence of noble rot, like Dolce what could have been a curse became the basis for the most delightful elixir. Ceja’s wines are influenced by their Hispanic heritage and Dulce Beso captures in each bottle tropical essences and citrus notes encased in tremendous silkiness. With a 14.6% sugar concentration we love to pair this sweet kiss with Alphonso Mango Crème brulee garnished with gold chili & cinnamon chocolate flakes.
Port by Fontanella
We are so fortunate to be first in line when it comes to limited edition production. Our fantastic friends at Fontanella just launched a most magnificent Port. Made with primitivo grapes this gorgeous port is indeed an elegant way to close a meal. This Port delivers a full mouth experience with notes of chocolate plums and cherries. To us this a fortified wine to be enjoyed in the library paired with the finest of cigars. We love a Padron Serie 1926.
La Fantasia by Castello di Amorosa
A mild and beautiful Italian style sparking wine La Fantasia is definitively an outdoorsy type. With aromas of cherries, flowers and wild berries and low alcohol content this is a wine to be shared with friends on a lazy summer afternoon. With a creamy round finish we love to pair La Fantasia with roasted peaches and Morello cherries gelato.