What to drink…

Richard Hem­ming re­veals his choice of sweet wines to match this month’s dessert recipe

Living France - - Flavours Of France -

When cook­ing with booze, it of­ten makes sense to serve the same drink along­side the dish. Boeuf bour­guignon and coq au vin are two clas­sic ex­am­ples. If you pour a few glasses of the same wine that went into the dish, you’re pretty much guar­an­teed a good match.

For baba au rhum, it’s not so straight­for­ward. Fur­ther­more, serv­ing a clas­sic pud­ding such as this, pro­vides the per­fect ex­cuse to in­dulge in one of the wine world’s most un­der­rated trea­sures: dessert wine.

The main prin­ci­ple for match­ing sweet wines with recipes is to en­sure that the sweet­ness lev­els are as close as pos­si­ble – oth­er­wise, one tends to over­whelm the other. Wine buffs mea­sure sweet­ness in grams per litre of resid­ual sugar (RS), mean­ing the amount of nat­u­ral grape sugar left over af­ter fer­men­ta­tion. Here’s a short guide to French sweet­ies; any­thing un­der five grams per litre of RS is con­sid­ered dry – ‘ sec’, in French. Then comes ‘ demi-sec’, which can be up to 12 grams – of­ten the sweet­ness is barely per­cep­ti­ble at this level. The next, ‘ moelleux’, is a rarely used clas­si­fi­ca­tion, reach­ing 45 grams per litre, fol­lowed by ‘ doux’, which cov­ers any­thing above that level.

How­ever, not all dessert wines will use these terms on their la­bels. The most fa­mous French sticky is Sauternes, which is by def­i­ni­tion a sweet wine, mean­ing they don’t use any of the above clas­si­fi­ca­tions. Sauternes is ‘ doux’ by de­fault, gen­er­ally rang­ing be­tween 120 and 160 grams of sugar per litre.

By happy co­in­ci­dence, Lidl is selling a one-off par­cel of French wines, in­clud­ing a Sauternes and sev­eral other stick­ies, all at bar­gain prices. Sup­plies are lim­ited, but ev­ery Lidl store in the UK will be stock­ing them. Here are three to look out for:

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