Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 9th 2014 Contents |WINE|
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
-- Romeo and Juliet, 2.2
AH, LOVE IS in the air ... Profound words on Love from
my favourite poet, William Shakespeare. It is February,
and Cupid will soon be making his appearance with lots
of bows and arrows, chocolates and roses and, no doubt,
some fine wines. It's the week of Valentines, dedicated
to lovers, and many of us will celebrate this day in ro-
mantic, special ways: dinners, teddy bears, chocolates,
roses, and so much more. To make this occasion special
for our wine lovers, I teamed up with award-winning Pas-
try Chef, Cheryl Shortt-Charles. Cheryl, a former wine
student of mine, is a lecturer at Trinidad and Tobago
Hospitality and Tourism Institute, a Pastry Chef of The
Year titleholder, who represented our country at the
"Taste of the Caribbean" on several occasions.
She has created two special "V-Day" desserts to share
with our readers. I can write miles and miles of informa-
tion on dessert wines; however, due to space constraints,
I will be brief on the topic, and just give you an apprecia-
tion for the different types and how to pair with Cheryl's
decadent desserts. Dessert wines, referred to as "pud-
ding" wines, are sweet wines typically served with
dessert. They are meant to be drunk and enjoyed in small
glasses. There are five major dessert wines, from deli-
cately fizzy Moscato D'Asti to rich brooding vintage Port.
These wines are sweet, and produced with extra sweet
wine grapes. In order to make them sweet, the fermen-
tation is stopped before the yeast turns all the natural
grape sugar into alcohol. While there are hundreds of
types of dessert wines on the market, most fall into five
main styles: Sparkling; Light and Sweet; Rich and Sweet;
Sweet Red and Fortified.
The bubbly sensation and high acids in most sparkling
dessert wines make them taste less sweet than they re-
ally are. Wines like Moscato d'Asti, Asti Spumante and
fruity sparkling Rosé fall in this category.
Lightly sweet wines are refreshingly sweet: perfect for
hot days. Many of these wines pair well with spicy foods,
like Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine e.g. Riesling Mus-
catel and Chenin Blanc.
Richly sweet wines are made with the highest quality
grapes in an unfortified style. Many of these wines can
safely age 50-plus years because sweetness and acidity
preserve their fresh flavour. Some of these wines are his-
torically important, including Hungarian Tokaji, which was
loved by the Tzars of Russia, South African Constantia that
was an obsession of the Dutch and English, and the French
Sauternes, which were so loved by the Americans in the
early 1800s. There are different methods in grape prepa-
ration for these wines. There are "Late Harvest" wines,
where the grapes are left to hang on the vines longer in the
season to become sweeter and more raisinated.
This style is called "Vendage Tardive" in Alsace, and
"Spatlese" in Germany. Another is "Noble Rot". Known sci-
entifically as Botrytis cinerea, Noble Rot is a fungus al-
lowed to grow on certain grapes in order to produce sweet
or dessert wines, e.g. Sauternes, Tokaji and German Aus-
lene. Yet another is the "Straw Mat" method or "Straw
Wine". In this method grapes are simply laid out mats to
raisinate before being press into wine. The result is similar
to that of the ice wine process, but suitable for warmer cli-
mates, and an example would be Muscat Passito.
True Ice wine is extremely rare and expensive, for two
1) It only occurs in years of extreme cold when vineyards
2) Ice wine must be harvested and pressed while the
grape is still frozen. Ice wines are usually produced in cold
regions e.g. Canada, Germany and Switzerland. They are
honeyed, and richly sweet, similar to a "Noble Rot" wine.
Sweet reds are on the decline except for cheap commercial
production. However, there are still a few well-made inter-
esting reds in this category. The majority of these come from
Italy, and use esoteric grapes, e.g. Lamrusco, Schiava, Freisa.
There are also some Late Harvest red desserts made in the
USA with grapes like Zinfandel, Malbec and Petit Sirah.
These are generally sweet and high in alcoholic content.
These wines are "fortified" with extra alcohol that's been
added to the base wine during fermentation. They in-
clude Port, Sherry and Madeira. As previously indicated,
I will be back in future articles with more on this category
of wine --- the dessert wines. Using both dark and white
chocolate in her recipes Cheryl Shortt-Charles created
two decadent desserts for you --- Chocolate Ganache
Cake and Red Velvet Pop. (See Page 22 for Cheryl's di-
vine Valentine's Recipes.) Double the pleasure of these
wonderful desserts with dessert wines, to complete
your Valentine Day's meals:
For the Chocolate Ganache, a good pairing would be a
glass of Port, like ultra-rich Cockburn's Special Reserve.
For the Red Velvet Pop, a sparkling Rosé or Asti
Spumante should leave your taste buds in bliss. Next
week we'll look at Wine and Carnival, taking a look at
what fete patrons are "wining" to at Carnival all-inclusive
parties this season. Happy Valentine's Day!
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