Finish Christmas lunch with ‘world’s greatest dessert wine’ | Alistair Gibson
I think I should nail my colours to the mast here. I am not a great pudding lover, I opt for cheese over a dessert most of the time.
However, I could happily sit and sip sweet wine at the end of a meal. But Christmas is the exception, for I have a bit of a soft spot for Christmas pudding, and port is the perfect accompaniment.
Dessert wine is not as popular as it deserves to be so it tends to offer good value for money.
There is no better example of this than De Bortoli Sumptuously Rich Pudding Wine (Aldi £8.99 – 37.5cl bottle).
This has been aged in oak for eight years and has a wonderful deep, caramel colour with a bouquet that almost smells of Christmas itself. There are toffee, raisins, roasted coffee and spices, followed by layers of sweetness and more toffee and raisin, before a wonderfully rich and very long finish.
This is brilliant value and will more than happily work with the pudding or maybe a rich chocolate dessert. If you have any left over on Boxing Day just pour over vanilla ice cream for a touch of Christmas indulgence.
If dessert wine is not as popular as it should be then sherry is very much on the same page, and sweet sherry is almost a style of wine that, unless you are already a devotee, has disappeared altogether.
Maybe Christmas is a good opportunity to see what you may have been missing.
Truthfully Gonzalez Byass Noe Pedro Ximénez, 30 Years old (Waitrose £19.99, Ocado on offer at £16 until January 2, Majestic £17.99 if part of a mixed six – 37cl bottle) is almost a dessert in itself and still represents amazing value for money.
It is made from partially sun-dried Pedro Ximénez grapes, then fermented and aged in the traditional solera system.
The resulting wine is very dark in colour, with a nose which is almost reminiscent of the pudding itself with figs, raisins, winter spices and toffee, followed by a rich, super-sweet, unctuous, dense palate which seems to last forever.
This is one of the world’s great dessert wines and it will certainly stand up to the pudding. At the end of the meal I may simply sit back and contemplate another year while I sip on this nectar.
The final chapter of Christmas lunch involves the appearance of the stilton and some port. There seems to be an extraordinary array of port on the shelves at this time of year but having recommended Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserva Port (Waitrose £18.39, Hermitage Cellars £16.50) back in September I still think this is wonderful value and I really appreciate it is one of the very few organic ports available.
It is very rich, concentrated port with a bouquet of dark fruit, particularly black cherry and plum, followed by more dark fruits, firm but ripe tannins and a long, sweet, velvety finish.
This is very fine port indeed, lovely with the stilton maybe, but can work brilliantly with dark chocolate desserts. It will certainly be finding a place on my Christmas table.