For Valentine's Day this year, think about surprising your Valentine with something totally unexpected: a great sweet wine. Champagne is always romantic, especially rosé Champagnes, but this year after the cards, flowers, and special dinner, bring out a fabulous sweet wine.
If you think sweet wines are heavy and cloying, try one of the three that I recommend. The trick in creating any fine sweet wine is having a balance of fruit and acidity that keeps the wine light on its feet and prepares you for another sip. You may not believe that you or your Valentine like sweet wine but the suggestions below could change your mind.
Icewine from Canada
Just as its name implies, Icewine (or Ice Wine) is made from grapes that have frozen on the vine, concentrating their juice into a tiny amount of sweet nectar. The wine regions are Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia, with the majority of vineyards in British Columbia. Look for an Icewine made from the Vidal grape -- which is particularly well suited for this type of wine.
Tokaji, pronounced Toh-kah-YEE, is Hungary's most famous wine and has been called the "Wine of Kings and the King of Wines." Indeed, it is one of the world's more unusual wines, made from grapes (Furmint and Harslevelu) that have shriveled on the vine and are then made into a sweet paste that's fermented with a base wine. The result is a bronze-colored nectar-like wine that tastes like apricots, peaches, spiced apples and cinnamon. The Tokaji Aszu has matured three to five years in cask and has five to six puttonyos, which indicates the level of sweetness but also is a measure of concentration and intensity.
Sauternes from France
Sauternes is made in the Bordeaux region of France, primarily from Semillon with some Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. These grapes have been botrytis affected, the famous "noble rot" that makes the grapes shrivel and concentrates the juice. Sauternes is the sweet wine by which sweet wines are judged; it's a combination of lusciousness, earthiness and lightness. The greatest Sauternes in the world is Chateau d'Yquem, but it's hard to find and very expensive.
What to serve late in the evening with Icewine, Tokaji or Sauternes? Sophisticated desserts, such as soufflés would be good and fresh fruit would be a winner, as would nuts. Happy Valentine's Day!
Certified Wine Professional
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