An after-dinner treat that deserves the prettiest glass, sweet white wines can hail from all over the world but they speak the same language.
At their best, these little nuggets taste luxurious and are balanced by good acidity which keeps them lifted as they blend into a golden cloud of sweetness.
Before we begin our journey to discover how this sweet symphony can be paired with rich pates and blue cheeses, fruit and desserts, the first and most important rule is to be sure to chill these half bottles (37.5cl or 50cl) for several hours before serving.
Surprisingly light on its feet at 15% abv, Winemakers’ Selection Muscat St Jean de Minervois, France, (£4.99, Sainsbury’s) is a delicious entry level style made from muscat grapes. A pale beauty from the South of France that’s non-syrupy and fragrant, honeycomb flavours mingle with lychee on the blossomy finish.
Serving a sweet Italian wine with biscotti at the end of a meal is one of life’s irresistible pleasures and di Lenardo Pass The Cookies 2011, Northern Italy, (£13.99, www.31dover.com) is silky and luscious without being over-the-top. The colour of copper and a blend of verduzzo and riesling, the concentrated fruit has gorgeous notes of honey and caramel with overtones of candied peel.
Heady and perfumed, Domaine Lyrarakis, Malvasia of Crete, Greece, (£17.75, www.bbr.com) is a blend of indigenous grapes and it’s not surprising this sun-drenched country produces such aromatic and gratifying dessert wines. Rich and luxurious with orange blossom, nectarine and peach flavours, it evokes thoughts of orange groves and pairs beautifully with fruit salad and cream.
Little gems from Tokaj in the north-east of Hungary are a dream ticket with a slice of apple pie - tokaji is the Hungarian equivalent to a sauternes.
The Tokaj region’s famous sweet wines are a blend of local white grapes and the area has ideal conditions for grapes to be affected by noble rot.
To follow the trail to sweetie heaven, try Royal Tokaji Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2007, Hungary, (£19.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk) which is a lightly oaked burnished gold and tastes like pure nectar with sinful flavours of apricot and honey balanced by acidity and a potent long finish.
Along with the heat Down Under, Australia’s abundant sunshine offers rich pickings from the semillon grapevine. With lovely orange blossom and honeyed fruit, Tesco’s Finest Dessert Semillon 2008, Australia, (£6.79, Tesco) even lends itself to ice cream. Drizzle over a scoop of vanilla and top with nuts for a naughty treat.