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