Beyond Port and Sherry, here are a few of our favorites:
Sauternes – the golden wine of the Sauternes region in
Bordeaux, these wines are made with botrytis-affected
grapes and produce a rich, honeyed concoction with an amazing balance of sweetness and acidity.
Don’t discount Sauternes'
neighbor, Barsac, or even the region across the river, Loupiac. Made in the same style, wines from both regions
carry a lower price tag but deliver the same quality.
Ice Wine – Ice wines are made from grapes that are picked in the dead of winter. The
grapes shrivel and then freeze, concentrating the sugar and protecting the grapes. Ice wine is a luscious nectar-like wine
- the best are from Canada (Inniskillin) and
Germany, made from grapes like
Riesling and Vidal (found in Canada).
Tokay – The Hungarian wine from the region of the same name. Drunk by European kings for centuries, Tokay is another
botrytis-affected wine, but made in a different fashion than most. Tokay comes in levels of sweetness, called puttonyos. The
higher the puttonyos, the sweeter the wine. For pure nectar, try Tokay Essencia, a wine so delectable, it's drunk by the spoonful.
Stickies – Australian sweet wines made most often
from botrytis-affected Muscat or Muscadelle.
because that’s what the juice is like. Typically a darker color, stickies are classically from Rutherglen and Glenrowan,
in the Australian state of Victoria.
Late harvest and botrytis – Sweet wines from some regions are frequently labeled as "late-harvest," meaning
were picked later than usual, with increased ripeness levels and sometimes with botrytis. You may see a wine called "botrysized,"
to indicate this. Late-harvest wines are made with grapes with a higher level of sugar.
Some wines to find include: Beaumes-de-Venise,
Alsace Vendage Tardive, Late-harvest Muscats.
Learn More About Italy
Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria
Home of the fashion capital of Milan, Lombardy is not quite Italy's capital of wine. It is, however, home to a few wines worth noting. Most vineyards are far north, far south or far east. First, in the south, the sparkling wine Franciacorta – this sparkling wine is made in the methode champagnoise and the better wineries produce wine that can hold it's own in a quality bubbly line up. Lugana, a pleasant, white wine made from Trebbiano, comes from Lombardy as well. Lean reds from the Nebbiolo grape are made further up in the Valtelliana region, near the Alps.
The region of Emilia-Romagna is better known for its food rather than wine. Most of the wine coming from this region is the red, slightly-fizzy Lambrusco. It's high in acid and best drunk young. The white coming out of the region is mostly Albana di Romagna. Made from the albana grape, it's typically dry and pleasant, although not found often.
Talk about being in the center of things… the land-locked region of Umbria is smack dab in the middle of the country. The most familiar white wine of the region is Orvieto, named for the medieval Etruscan town. It's a Trebbiano-based wine with good fruit flavors and high acid. Originally a sweet wine, most Orvietos are now dry. Red wine from Umbria includes Torgiano and Montefalco - Torgiano made from the grapes of Chianti, while Montefalco uses the native sagrantino grape, making big and bold reds.