Rich desserts need matching with alcoholic beverages of equally tasty proportions capable of standing up to their intense flavours. Sherry, port or sparkling wine will certainly match most fruit-filled puddings and chocolate tortes.
Harveys Bristol Cream sherry (£10.50 for 75cl at Sainsbury’s) enhances dense sugary desserts but lighter citrus-flavoured or nut-filled desserts can get overwhelmed by this sweetest of all sherry styles. Oloroso or Amontillado sherries taste less of raisins and more of hazelnuts, and are the perfect match to lemon puds or cheesecakes.
If you prefer cheese not as an ingredient but as an after-dinner accompaniment then choose port wine to match. Crumbly white cheeses, like Wensleydale and Lancashire, work best with the crisp flavours of chilled white port, while heavier blue-veined cheeses complement sweeter red ports.
Ruby port is aged for three years, the shortest period within the port categories, and is a great drink for those who like slightly sweetened fruit flavours with their cheese. Next port up the quality category ratings is Reserve port. The couple more years of cask ageing adds chocolate and smoky overtones.
Though a great combination, some ports are still best appreciated without cheese. Taylor’s 20 year-old Tawny (£32.95 from N.D John Wine Merchants and other independents) tastes so crisp – despite bristling with flavours of raisins and baked apples – that cheese seems unnecessary.
But for the ultimate meal ending of Christmas pudding topped with custard then what is needed is a sherbet tasting sparkling wine to help cleanse the palate – try Codorníu’s cava Reserva Raventos Brut (Majestic £11.99).
PG Wine Reviews
Domaine Ferandiere French Riesling 2015
Peach, lemon and honey flavours. Could be used as a dessert wine.
Chateau Moulin du Terrier Bordeaux 2012, red substitute for Port
£10.99 Virgin Wines
Watch out for the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Flavours of black cherry, coffee and barley cough sweets.
Masi Campofiorin 2014, Italy
The massively heavy bottle and solid cork provide the drama while the wine inside provides the intense flavours you’d expect from a port at three times the price. Made with semi-dried grapes, this wine is very similar to another Italian wine called Amarone – and both have the potential to be aged in your cellar (do you have one?) for 15-20 years. But open now for the mix of cocoa, raspberry and raisin flavours. Fab stuff.
Taylor’s 10 year-old Tawny port
If you can’t find the 20 year-old version then try the 10 year-old. Cigar and chocolate aromas. Great match to blue cheese or a nutty dessert.