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Must-Try Dessert Wines

Dessert wines are a great way to finish a night at an Ottawa food and wine bar.

Finish Off A Meal At Ottawa Food And Wine Bars With These Wines

At Ottawa Food and Wine bars, dessert wines are so named because they are frequently sweet and flavourful enough to replace desserts. They are made with sweet wine grapes, and a special fermentation process wherein the fermentation of the grapes is stopped before the grape sugar turns to alcohol.

Instead of eating a slab of rich chocolate cake, try a dessert wine the next time you’re at an Ottawa food and wine bar. When trying dessert wines, savour the wine and its sweetness by slowly sipping from a small glass. The following are the five main types of dessert wine:

Fortified Wine

Has grape brandy added to the wine. Examples of these wines are:

  • Madeira—from the island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Port—from Portugal
  • Sherry—from Spain
  • Vin Doux Naturel (VDN)—from anywhere, but common in Australia, France, Greece, and Italy

Lightly Sweet Dessert Wines

These refreshing wines pair well with spicy foods. Examples of lightly sweet wines include:

  • Chenin Blanc—France, South Africa, and the US
  • Gewürztraminer—California, Italy, and New Zealand
  • Müller-Thurgau—Germany and Oregon
  • Riesling—Alsace, Australia, Germany, and the US
  • Viognier—France

Richly Sweet Dessert Wines

These wines vary in style depending on how they are produced: Late Harvest wines use grapes that are left on the vine longer, which allows them to ripen and be sweeter; Ice Wine harvests occur when the vineyard is frozen and the grapes must remain frozen when pressed; Noble Rot grapes have spores that rot them, leaving them with a ginger and honey flavour. The following wines use noble rot grapes:

  • Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling—from Germany
  • Sauternes, Barsac, Cadillac, and Monbazillac—from France
  • Tokaji—from Hungary

Straw Mat Wines

During production, the grapes for these wines are laid out on straw mats before being pressed. This process turns them into raisins, causing them to be sweeter.

Examples of Straw Mat wines include:

  • Austrian Schilfwein
  • French Vin de Paille
  • German Strohwein
  • Greek Straw Wines
  • Italian Passito
  • Italian Vin Santo

Sweet Red Wines

These fruity, sweet wines are often produced in Italy, and include:

  • Brachetto D’Aqui
  • Freisa
  • Lambrusco
  • Late Harvest Red Wines
  • Recioto della Valpolicella
  • Schiava

Sparkling Dessert Wines

These bubbly wines are light and fun, and include types such as Chardonnay. Look for the following descriptions on labels to get a sense of the wine’s character:

  • Amabile—Italian for “slightly sweet”
  • Demi-Sec—French for “off-dry”
  • Dolce and Dulce—Italian and Spanish for “sweet”
  • Doux—French for “sweet”
  • Moelleux—another French word for “sweet”

The next time you’re out at an Ottawa food and wine bar, keep this list in mind if you’re tempted to try these sweet and delicious dessert wines.