PRAISING PUD WINES
The trouble with Dessert Wines is that, by definition (arguably), they arrive late for the party. During the recently past Christmas celebrations we’ve all been enjoying dinners with several courses – lunches too! Also, when home entertaining at other times of the year, it’s the dessert wine that has to negotiate the wake of the others that arrived before. Usually, during these days of strict (rightly so) drink driving laws, it is the pud wine that is forsaken.
Of course, we could, as the fridge magnate directs, ‘Eat dessert first, life is short!’ This would solve the dessert wine problem. However, although there are some of us who do like an aperitif with a little sweetness – think Dubonnet, and Martini from days of yore – I would say that probably more of us follow a drier aperitif tradition.
At such grand repasts we often begin with a pre-starter starter, charmingly termed ‘amuse-bouches, and I’d suggest that it’s not too much of a quantum leap to state that these light-bites are often served with a Sparkling Wine. Incidentaly, in the UK, from where I’m writing this article at the moment, these bubbles are almost invariably of Italian origin – Prosecco, of course. So, at the head of the queue of the wines that dessert wines have to follow is the fizz – and with sparklers, we rarely stick with just one glass!
Then the next course, the starter proper. Well, as likely as not, the more so if we are being ‘traditional’ we’ll have a white wine lined up. Therefore, another behind which the dessert wine will have to follow. And it gets worse for our sweet friend. Given that these days in Spain the standard of white wine is so good and indeed there are so many from which to choose, it’s a definite possibility that there will be two whites to sample!
The main course comes next. If it’s fish, well we’ll probably stick with white, so more of the same wines sampled with the starter, or why not a different one? Meat courses will almost certainly demand a red wine (remember, we are being traditional here). As we all know, Spanish reds have such a long and successful history that our dinner host will certainly have had considerable difficulty choosing just one. Ergo, at least two more before the dessert wine!
Now, throw into the equation the likely fact that diners are probably fully sated (i.e. full and sloshed?!) by now, there will be several who simply will not be able to manage a dessert! Which means of course that the dessert wine will be similarly spurned. So, it would seem that pud wines, these days, are on a hiding to nothing!
Well, not so fast. I think it’s true that many of us, no matter how full we are, still enjoy a little (being the operative word) sweet taste at the end of a fine dinner to satisfy our sweet teeth. Enter, the Copper Pot Fudge Kitchen, hand in hand with pairing dessert wines!
Over Christmas I was as delighted to taste several samples of these delicious fudges, as I was charmed to meet their creator, Catrin, the hardworking young owner of this innovative nascent business. The answer to our desire to have something sweet with which to finish dinner was there, gift wrapped in environmentally friendly recycled papers and boxes. I just needed to get my head around finding dessert wines that would partner such exotic flavours as: Lemon Cheesecake fudge; Gingerbread Fudge; Pecan Praline; Christmas Pudding Fudge; and the best selling Salted Milk Chocolate Fudge – et al (see https://www.facebook.com/copperpotfudge/?fref=ts) !
Well, here are my suggestions: Lemon Cheesecake Fudge with Bronx Dessert Wine from Bodegas Pago de Tharsys; Pecan Praline Fudge with Oloroso Sherry (one of the sweetened versions rather than the naturally dry style prevalent in Spain); Salted Milk Chocolate Fudge (a flavour that is all the rage in the UK right now) with Bodegas Castaño Monastrell Dulce; Christmas Pudding Fudge with PX Sherry (the probably perfect pairing); Gingerbread Fudge (off piste here, as it’s not a dessert wine, but has a super ginger twist on entry as well as on the finish) Bodegas Casa Sicilia Albariño/Sauvignon/Macabeo.
Having left university with a very good English Literature degree, Catrin embarked on this, now burgeoning, totally unrelated fudge business – well you would wouldn’t you?! It’s always a been a passionate hobby for her and she has previous in that she’s been making fudge as Christmas presents for years. When offered the opportunity to trial her wares in her friend’s Welsh village craft shop she jumped at the chance – and the customers jumped at the fudges!
As far as is possible Catrin uses local produce – Welsh Butter, Anglesey Sea Salt, Welsh Whisky (would love to try that fudge, and it wouldn’t be wine to pair!) etc. She’s been mad busy with orders for Christmas, which has given her the confidence to consider expansion plans. There will soon be an online buying facility and, of course, she is always thinking of different flavours including at least two new ones each holiday season, as well as also drawing from her post-univertsity travelling. Possibilities here include such exotic tastes as: cardamom and white chocolate; mango; and chai spice.
So, I’ll be putting on my thinking cap again, each time I hear of a new flavour, to try and find a Spanish Dessert wine to partner them. I love my job!
A Happy New Year to all readers – knowing I have a supportive audience really is most appreciated. Thank you!
PS The next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91.8 & online www.totalfm.es is this Sunday 29th January from 18:00 – 20:00 hrs (Spanish Time). As it’s just after Chinese New Year the theme of the programme is Chinese Cuisine Paired with Spanish Wine! My two guests and will be tasting live on-air some Chinese Dishes accompanied by classic pairing wines, but made in Spain! This has to be worth a listen!
Also please note: I am taking bookings now for a splendid evening with a gourmet dinner, paired with fine wines and classical & contemporary music (performed by www.clairemarie.es) at Moraira’s excellent Restaurante Dgust! It’s on Thursday February 9th and the cost is only 39€ – you can reserve by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me on 629 388 159. Places are limited to just 30, so please contact me asap!