The holidays are the perfect time to unabashedly drink dessert wines in all their sticky sweet glory. They are hands-down the best pairing with shortbread, butter tarts and all the season’s other festive sugary treats. Here are a few recommendations from local Edmonton wine experts of their favourite dessert wines to enjoy over the holidays. These make great gifts, too!
Owner, Lingua Vina
Wine recommendation: Quevedo White Port 10-Year-Old, $30; 30-Year-Old, $130 I enjoy dessert wines year-round, but there’s something about cooler weather and a roaring fine (or the crackling fire log channel) that makes a lovely glass of fortified or dessert wine the perfect ending to a meal. Lately, I find myself returning to white port. It’s so complex and delicious with a totally different flavour profile than the more typical vintage or tawny ports. White port has toffee, caramel, candied orange and floral characters. It’s a little more lifted and elegant than red port, while still being a luxurious treat.
Quevedo is an excellent family port producer that offers a 10-year-old and 30-year-old white port. The 10-year has candied citrus flavours while the 30-year is very special with toffee, rich caramel, nougat and baked apricot flavours. These are absolutely delicious and pair with so many different holiday treats.
Wine Buyer, Sherbrooke Liquor
Wine recommendation: Domaine des Fontaines Bonnezeaux “Les Brunettes”, $50 I’m super stoked about this Bonnezeaux, which is a sweet wine from the Loire Valley in France made from Chenin Blanc. The grapes are hand-harvested and only those affected by botrytis (noble rot) are selected. Bonnezeaux is very full-bodied and powerful, redolent with aromas of peach and honey, hints of sour apple, pear and marmalade.
Chenin Blanc’s acidity provides the perfect backbone for lush sweetness on the palate. It’s exactly this balance that enables Bonnezeaux to age for 10 years or more. Food pairings range across the board for those who are bold. Try it with foie gras, fish or shellfish in creamy sauces, chocolate fondue (especially with pears), goat cheese, blue cheese and almonds.
Wine recommendation: Jurançon, $30 My favourite dessert wine is Jurançon, a wonderfully sweet wine from South West France that’s made from the Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng varieties. The grapes are left to hang deep into the fall to let noble rot take hold, then harvested in stages. Jurançon has a flowery nose of sweet acacia and a little note of herbaceousness. The palate is refreshingly acidic – this is not a sickly-sweet, thick nectar – with honey, gingerbread, apricot and pineapple flavours.
I like this wine because it is not rare or small production and can be very affordable, though it can be a little difficult to procure because it’s not so well-known. We serve it at The Marc with foie gras, and it would also benefit a plate of salty lox or a simple dish of roasted nuts.
Alberta Sales Manager, 2851 Selections
Wine recommendation: Coffele Recioto di Soave Classico “Le Sponde” 2018, $80 A modest ruby port and dark chocolate are fixtures in our house all winter long, but during the holidays our family loves to splurge on something really special. Our first European trip as a family was to Italy, so it usually ends up being some fabulous passito-method sticky from a favourite region, like a Vin Santo or Recioto della Valpolicella.
My pick this year is a lesser-known beauty: a Recioto di Soave from the white Garganega grape. Dried apricot and figs play with fresher tropical fruit aromas and flavours, while the luscious texture is beautifully balanced by acidity. Pair with a cheese board or a ricotta lemon cake.
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