How To Drink Dessert Wine

As a wine enthusiast, I’ve always had a soft spot for dessert wines. Their sweet, luscious flavors and rich aromas make them the perfect way to cap off a delicious meal or to enjoy on …

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As a wine enthusiast, I’ve always had a soft spot for dessert wines. Their sweet, luscious flavors and rich aromas make them the perfect way to cap off a delicious meal or to enjoy on their own. If you’re new to dessert wines or simply looking to enhance your tasting experience, here’s a guide on how to drink dessert wine like a pro.

Choosing the Right Glass

When it comes to savoring dessert wine, the right glass can make all the difference. Opt for a smaller wine glass with a tulip shape to concentrate the aromas and direct them towards your nose. This allows you to fully appreciate the complex bouquet of the wine.

Serving Temperature

For most dessert wines, serving them chilled at around 45-50°F (7-10°C) is ideal. This temperature helps to balance the sweetness and acidity, ensuring a harmonious tasting experience. You can achieve this by placing the bottle in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Pairing with Desserts

Dessert wines are a natural fit with various sweet treats. I love pairing a luscious Sauternes with a classic crème brûlée or a decadent chocolate dessert. The contrast between the sweetness of the wine and the richness of the dessert creates a delightful harmony on the palate.

Decanting and Aerating

While not all dessert wines require decanting, some older or more complex varieties can benefit from aeration. Pouring the wine into a decanter and allowing it to breathe for 30 minutes to an hour can soften any harsh edges and bring out the nuanced flavors.

Appreciating the Aromas

Before taking the first sip, take a moment to swirl the wine in your glass and inhale deeply. Dessert wines often boast a myriad of aromas, ranging from honey and dried fruits to floral notes and exotic spices. Let the intoxicating scents transport you to the vineyards and wineries where the wine was crafted.

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The Tasting Experience

When tasting dessert wine, pay attention to its texture, sweetness, acidity, and finish. Is it silky and luscious on the palate, or does it have a more refreshing crispness? Does the sweetness linger or is it balanced by a zesty acidity? Take your time to savor each sip and appreciate the wine’s unique characteristics.

My Personal Favorite: Ice Wine

One of my all-time favorite dessert wines is Ice Wine. Crafted from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine, this luscious wine boasts intense sweetness and vibrant acidity. I love sipping on a glass of Ice Wine alongside a fruit tart or creamy blue cheese – the contrast of flavors is simply irresistible.


Drinking dessert wine is not just about indulging in sweet flavors, but about experiencing the artistry and dedication that goes into crafting these exquisite libations. Each bottle tells a story, and by savoring it with the right approach, you can fully appreciate the labor of love that went into producing it.

John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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