Red Figures:~Wine for Dessert

There are a few ways I can tell that I am maturing. I don’t feel the need to watch “The Bachelor” (OK, not all of it anyway). I am not afraid to ask for what I want anymore (usually), and I am starting to enjoy dessert wines.

If you read my piece on New Year’s resolutions, you may remember that one was to broaden my horizons and to give wines a second chance. I had written off dessert wines long ago as too sweet, but now I have found that there is a time, place, and way to enjoy them.

Some may choose a dessert wine to hold up to a sweet treat; others will choose one to sip on in lieu of dessert. I fall mainly into the second category. I like milk, not ice cream, with cake or a brownie. I think there CAN be too much of a good thing. But, give me a cheese plate or some salty cashews and a dessert wine, and I am a happy girl.

Let’s try to define a dessert wine. The legal definition, for purposes of taxation, is a wine with alcohol levels of more than 14 percent. Then there is the connotation that dessert wines are sweet and concentrated, but some are actually considered dry. There are wines fortified before fermentation, and those after. Ice wines are made from grapes picked when temperatures are below 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Others, called Noble rot, are created when the grapes are infected with Botrytis cinerea which dehydrates the grape and yields very concentrated flavors.

One that I recently tried is Haak Winery’s Blanc du Bois Madeira. Raymond Haak spent two years in Madeira, Portugal studying production techniques and the history of this fortified wine. This wine undergoes long exposure to extreme heat to create the intense flavors.  ecause the wine is already oxidized when bottled, it can last for up to a year after it is opened. The wine takes three years to produce and it shows.

The Blanc du Bois grape is grown in the coastal region of Texas. It is a hybrid grape, related to Italian Muscat. The color is toasted caramel. On the nose I get, dried apricot, buttery caramel, maybe even a hint of coconut. On the palate is caramelized stone fruit, perfumed and elegant. Very smooth and round mouth feel and the finish is lovely.  This wine could be sipped before a meal as an apéritif or after as a dessert wine.

Haak also makes a sweet wine, a dry wine and a port with the Blanc du Bois. If you prefer the depth of red wine dessert wines, Haak also uses the Jacquez grape to make a port and a Madeira.

When you hear the term “Madeira,” chances are that you think of a wine typically used for cooking. I can assure you that the Haak Madeira is anything but typical.  Have you tried something new this year?  Have a dessert wine you think needs some recognition? If not, maybe it’s time to try a Madeira from Texas.