Wine of the Week - A Sweet Christmas

A Sweet Christmas
Text: Ronny Lau

It's not fair to describe Sweet Wine as "Dessert Wine", while it was the most popular style of wine, and there are so many different ways to make it. There are more occasions to enjoy a bottle of sweet wine apart from when a dessert is served, and Christmas is probably the best time of the year.

Sauternes and Foie Gras is a classic pairing in French gastronomic culture. The luscious Bordeaux noble rot white wine goes very well with the unique flavour of Foie Gras, and the bright acidity of the wine will cut through the fat of the dish. Try the Château Rieussec 2010 if your choice of starter is Foie Gras in the forthcoming Christmas dinner. This Premier Grand Cru château in Sauternes is under the same umbrella as the prestige Château Lafite Rothschild.

The natural acidity is the key to select a good bottle of sweet wine, this is the reason German Riesling is always a favourite for wine connoisseurs when they are talking about sweet wines. Try to open a bottle of Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Auslese Rosalack 2014, and you will find attractive honey aroma and both fresh fruits and dried fruits on the palate. Schloss Johannisberg has been cultivating only Riesling in their vineyards for nearly 300 years, you can easily identify the sweetness of their products from the colour of the bottle's capsule.

If you want to enjoy sweet wine as aperitif in a party, try one with less residual sugar such as Pio Cesere Moscato d'Asti. The floral nose and the peach-like taste will stimulate your appetite, while the low alcohol level is also a plus for the party. However, if you do enjoy your dessert with a pairing wine, pick a sweeter wine, otherwise your dessert tastes dull and blank. Try the Taylor's Historic Collection Reserve Tawny, it's a new range produced from blending some of the selected Ports from the wine estate's extensive aged stocks. The unique one-litre "bladder" shaped bottle which originated in the 1720s will undoubtedly be another talking point other than the complex taste round the table.

Another sweet wine you can't miss in Christmas time is Vinsanto from Tuscany, Italy. The traditional sweet wine is made from dried grapes and aged in sealed small barrels called "caratelli" without topping up. Frescobaldi Pomino Vinsanto 2009 has been matured this way for 7 years, the amber-coloured wine shows candied fruits and peppery scents with round and oily body, best for this festive season!

Ronny Lau

Ronny Lau is the chairman of Hong Kong Wine & Spirits Writers Association, and has been the co-chairman of Shanghai International
Wine Challenge since 2011.

He has been a wine critics since 1980, and is a wine & spirits educator for University of Hong Kong and Institute for Tourism Studies in Macau.
He is also the curator of innovative music and wine pairing CDs. In 2012, he was invited by Italian wine producer to take up the role as winemaker and released the first ever Super Tuscan made by Chinese.