What to drink…
Master of Wine Richard Hemming explores the different types of dessert wine
A glass of good sweet wine served with pudding is surely one of life’s most indulgent pleasures. True to her gastronomic reputation, France makes a whole host of different styles of sweet wines to match any sort of dessert.
There are three basic main ways to make a sweet wine. The first is late harvest, known as vendange tardive in French. That simply means leaving the grapes on the vine longer, so that they accumulate more sugar.
It’s a simple technique, but it requires good weather throughout the autumn to ensure the grapes stay healthy.
An alternative is to use fortification. This means adding alcohol to a fermentation to kill the yeast, resulting in a wine that is both strong and sweet, usually with a powerful primary fruit flavour. These are known as vins doux naturels and are more common in the south of France.
The third method produces wine of superlative quality, but is specialised, expensive and requires very particular conditions. It relies on the development of a mould called noble rot. Also known as botrytis, this is a benevolent fungus that concentrates the juice inside grapes, resulting in a super sweet liquid with hugely complex flavours. The most famous location in France to use this method is the Sauternes area in Bordeaux, but the same method is used in the Loire and Alsace.
Here are three recommendations that will make a great match for the apricot and lavender almondine – or they can be enjoyed all by themselves.