Cooking Tips | 8 February 2017Pairing Dessert and Fortified Wines Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you love wine as much as we do then you’ll love incorporating dessert wines with your cheese pairings. That’s right, your meal just got even better, and thanks to Adam Centamore’s Tasting Wine and Cheese we can all be experts on making the dream of the perfect after dinner combo come true! Check out the following excerpt on dessert and fortified wines and get started! DESSERT AND FORTIFIED WINES Most wine-producing countries in the world make a dessert wine, a fortified wine, or both. France has Sauternes and Vin Doux. Italy makes Vin Santo. Spain has sweet sherry. Portugal has port. The list goes on and on. It’s hardly surprising—the rich, opulent flavors and textures of a well-crafted dessert or fortified wine are immensely satisfying. And who doesn’t like flavors of vanilla and butterscotch, apricots and honey, or sweet red berries? Not only are these wines the perfect conclusion to a decadent meal or a delicious way to ward off the cold on a chilly winter night, they are also amazingly adept at pairing with bold cheeses, creating some of the most striking combinations you’ll ever experience. Often grouped together, these two kinds of wines are actually quite different. The end result is the same—sweet, viscous wine with big flavors and high alcohol, right? Not quite. Unlike fortified wines, dessert wines are always sweet, with lots of sugar and no added alcohol. Unlike dessert wines, fortified wines can be made sweet or dry. The name “fortified” has more to do with the method of producing and stabilizing the wines than with sweetening them. Understanding the basic differences between them goes a long way toward making the best choice for your cheese plate. THE BASICS OF DESSERT AND FORTIFIED WINES Dessert wines are made with higher levels of sugar and usually an accompanying level of alcohol. Some dessert wines achieve this from allowing grapes to naturally develop higher levels of sugar during the season. Some achieve this by allowing the grapes to freeze in the cold weather, causing the grape to lose moisture but keep the sugar. Some even allow certain kinds of mold to form on the surface of the grapes, causing the grapes to lose water while retaining the sugar. These wines are made in such a way these higher sugars are kept, creating a wine that is virtually a dessert in itself. With fortified wines, the process is different. Long before modern, reliable techniques existed to protect wines from spoilage, a discovery was made. Adding alcohol (usually brandy) to wine helped protect it by “fortifying” it, raising the alcohol level high enough that bacterial spoilage couldn’t occur. An unintentional side effect of this was the halting of any fermentation. That meant any remaining sugar wasn’t turned into alcohol. The remaining sugar made the wine sweet, and the addition of alcohol made it even boozier. In other cases, like sherry, there are varying degrees of sweetness or dryness, depending on the style of the wine being made. The range is broad, and the differences pronounced. They all have one thing in common—the ability to create spectacular wine and cheese pairings. PAIRING WITH CHEESE The biggest factor to remember when pairing dessert and fortified wines with cheese is these wines themselves may be bigger, more flavorful, and at times bolder than many cheeses. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used for pairings, but the cheeses that accompany them need to be just as assertive. Consider the wine and its characteristics. Is it a sweet and thick dessert wine? Then be sure to pair it with a cheese that is also big and full-flavored. Is the wine dry, with a bit of Sea air aroma (like some sherries)? Then consider a cheese with more age on it that may also taste a bit saltier than a younger cheese. Another consideration for these pairings is whether or not a condiment will be involved. The additional flavor or texture it brings can change the overall character of the pairing, sometimes quite significantly. In the next chapter, condiments and their place in pairings are discussed. For now, just keep in mind their ability to help shape the pairing. Salted almonds may help bring out the saline quality of a fino sherry, and dried figs will really emphasize the rich, sweet characteristics of a tawny port. Let’s look at some specific examples. Buy from an Online Retailer In North America: In The UK: Broaden your palate and enhance your appreciation for gourmet flavor combinations with Tasting Wine and Cheese. Is there anything better than a great wine and cheese pairing? You might enjoy a robust cabernet with the sharp, aged cheddar, or perhaps a crisp Sancerre with a tangy, creamy chevre. Based on the curriculum Adam Centamore developed teaching at Formaggio Kitchen and the Boston Wine School,Tasting Wine and Cheeseguides you through the world of flavor pairing with an emphasis on understanding and developing your own palate. Maitre d ‘Fromage Adam Centamore teaches you how to first taste wines and cheeses separately, allowing you to understand the complex profiles of reds, whites, aged, and fresh. But wading through these waters is only half the battle.Tasting Wine and Cheese takes you on a journey through pairings of cheeses with white, red, sparkling, and dessert wines. There is even a section to help you pair condiments with your wine and cheese. Whether you’re looking to broaden your appreciation for gourmet combinations or simply looking for a menu to host a party, you’ll find everything that you need in this comprehensive guide. “Adam Centamore is a master at making the perfect wine and cheese match. The interactive pairing workshop he teaches is one of our most popular Wine School classes ever.” – Jonathan Alsop, founder & executive director of the Boston Wine School and author of Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice and Lore for the Ardent Aficionado “Wine and cheese pairings decoded! In Tasting Wine and Cheese, Adam employs the same approach in this book as he does his classes – comprehensive, fun and filled with practical information for anyone interested in the enjoyment of food. The result is a pairing of its own as both a solid primer and a worthwhile reference for your future wine and cheese pairing adventures.” – Tim Bucciarelli – Manager, Formaggio Kitchen Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.