Sweet wines: an introduction to these unfashionable gems

March 31, 2011


Sadly sweet wines have had bad PR over recent decades, and it’s now seen as a social faux pas in many circles to admit to liking your wine in anything other than a bone dry style. So sweet wines get a raw deal, relegated to the end of meals accompanying dessert, or forgotten altogether. But they’re worth discovering in their own right, and represent some of the wine world’s most interesting, exciting and down-right tasty gems. And they are not just for maiden aunts or portly academics, either. Here’s my personal guide to some of the sweet wines that are worth checking out.


Let’s begin with Port, possibly the world’s most famous sweet wine. Hailing from the spectacular Douro valley in Portugal, it’s made by stopping the fermentation of red wine part way through by the addition of brandy, thus retaining some natural sweetness from the grapes. This spirit addition also raises the alcohol to around 20%, which helps preserve the wine against microbial contamination (hence the term ‘fortified’).


There are a confusing number of Port styles and categories. It’s probably best to avoid Ruby and Vintage Character, the cheapest styles. A step up the quality ladder is Late Bottled Vintage (LBV): of these, I’d recommend looking for wines labelled ‘traditional’ or ‘crusted’ LBVs, because these wines often give the character of true Vintage  Port at a fraction of the price. At the top of the tree is Vintage  Port, the top wines from particularly good vintages bottled after just a couple of years in cask. These need long ageing (although some people quite like them young) and will throw a thick deposit in the bottle, so need decanting. As a slightly cheaper alternative, Single Quinta Ports are wines from individual estates that are made in years that haven’t been declared as vintage. They can often be just as good, and also require decanting. Leading producers include Taylor, Fonseca, Niepoort, Warre, Dow, Graham, Noval and Churchill.


In a different style, Tawny ports are those that have been aged for a long time in wood. With age they attain a mellow nutty, spicy character: particularly worth seeking out are the 10 year old and 20 year old tawnies, and also the Colheitas (vintage dated Tawny wines that are particularly popular in Portugal). As a general rule, the longer they spend in wood, the lighter in colour they become and the more mellow and complex the resulting wine. Port is the classic after dinner drink, when it typically comes out with the cheese course, but it’s also something that can be drunk alone any time.


Staying in the Iberian peninsula but switching countries to Spain, Sherry is another fortified wine style that’s worth getting to know. Most top sherries are dry, but there are a few sweet styles worth investigating. Sherries labelled Pedro Ximenez, made from air-dried grapes, are extremely sweet and viscous with flavours of liquidized raisins. These remarkable, unctuous wines are incredible, but won’t be to everyone’s taste. They work well poured over ice cream. Hidalgo, Valdespino and Gonzalez Byas make really good examples. Other seriously tasty sweet sherries include Gonzalez Byas’ Matusalem and Lustau’s Old East India. The great thing about sherry is that it is undervalued, and you usually get a lot more than you pay for.


If you like these sweet sherry styles, then you’ll probably also like the famous Rutherglen Muscats from Australia. These are ultra-sweet, complex raisiny wines that take on a deep brown colour from extended ageing in casks. They’re lovely, but because they are so rich and intense you’d probably feel as sick as a pig if you drank a whole bottle. Perfect with rich fruit cake.


If you want something sweet but a bit lighter, perhaps suitable for matching with fruity desserts, then sweet muscats from the south of France might be the answer. These are usually fresh, grapey, aromatic wines with a lovely freshness that counteracts the sweetness well. They’re very affordable, too. Muscat de Baumes de Venise is the most famous, but Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Rivesaltes and Muscat de St Jean de Minervois are also good.


Botrytis is the key to the success of many of the world’s most famous sweet wines. Also known as ‘noble rot’, Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that under the right conditions attacks already-ripe grapes, shrivelling them, concentrating the sweetness and acidity. The grapes end up looking disgusting but they make profound sweet white wines, of which Sauternes is the most famous example. The resulting wines are sweet and quite viscous, with complex apricot, honey and spice flavours and good balancing acidity. If you can’t stretch to good Sauternes, then the best wines of Saussignac and Monbazillac can offer the same sorts of flavours. I find these wines show best on their own: most desserts overwhelm the subtleties that you are paying all your money for.


Also relying on botrytis for its complexity but made in a different way is Hungary’s famous sweet wine, Tokaji. The nobly rotted grapes are made into a paste that is then added to the base wine, adding sweetness and flavour. Wines from Tokaji aren’t cheap, but they are unique with complex honey, marmalade and raisiny flavours, often with a hint of oxidation.


This is just a brief introduction to the variety of sweet wine styles. There are many other worthy wines that have not been mentioned here, including the great German noble-rotted Riesling Trockenbeerenauslesen, sweet Loire Chenin Blancs, and the rare Eisweins. My advice? Buy yourself something sweet and give your tastebuds something they’ve always wanted.


Source: <a href=”http://www.wineanorak.com/sweet_wine.htm”>http://www.wineanorak.com/sweet_wine.htm</a>


Manila is fast becoming a city of luxurious fine dining accompanied by fine vintage wine.  Not only must a 5-star Italian, French or Continental restaurant offer good food, nice ambience and immaculate service the restaurant wine list must be equally exciting to make the evening of wine and dine a memorable one.


This 5-star fine dining restaurant in Pampanga Philippines is highly recommended by food critics and frequent diners in Manila as a place to wine and dine in Subic Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone.  Although it is a famous fine dining restaurant with an award winning 3000-line restaurant wine list, Yats Restaurant is also a popular restaurant for family with children.  Aside from French Mediterranean haute cuisine, this restaurant also serves healthy food and the best vegetarian cuisines in the Philippines.  Private dining rooms are also available in this restaurant for business and personal meetings of 4 to 20 people.


Favorites of frequent diners, foodies and wine lovers are steaks, Wagyu, Foie Gras, seafood, lobsters, venison, kangaroo loin, osso buco, veal chops, Kurabuto pork, escargots and a good selection of cheeses to enjoy with fine Vintage port and Sauternes.  Cuban cigars such as Monte Cristo, Cohiba, Upmann, Partagas, Romeo Julieta and Trinidad are also available in the Magnum Room which is a wine bar and lounge for before and after dinner relaxation.  A good selection of Armagnac, Cognac, Single Malt, Vodka and other liquor is served in addition to the wine vintage wines some served by the glass.


Built in 2000 by Hong Kong-based Yats International, a developer and operator of hospitality and residential projects in the Philippines, fine dining Yats Restaurant and Wine Bar has served not only as Pampanga’s highly recommended restaurant and wine lounge, but also as a place where business executives meet to finalize business deals over a nice meal with some fine vintage wine.


For comments, inquiries and reservations click on <a href=” http://www.yatsrestaurant.com/booking/index.html”>Click here for inquiry and reservations</a>





(045) 599-5600




Ask for Pedro and Rechel


<a href=”http://www.YatsRestaurant.com”>www. YatsRestaurant.com</a>



Getting to this fine dining restaurant of Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone Pampanga Philippines

How to get to this fine-dining restaurant in Clark Philippines?  Once you get to Clark Freeport, go straight until you hit Mimosa.  After you enter Mimosa, stay on the left on Mimosa Drive, go past the Holiday Inn and Yats Restaurant (green top, independent 1-storey structure) is on your left.  Just past the Yats Restaurant is the London Pub.





Yats Restaurant & Wine Bar

Mimosa Drive past Holiday Inn, Mimosa Leisure Estate,

Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines 2023


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3003C East Tower, Phil Stock Exchange Center,

Exchange Rd Ortigas Metro Manila, Philippines 1605

(632) 637-5019   0917-520-4393  Rea or Chay


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For assistance in hotel and resort bookings in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines, log on to

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To buy wine in Manila, Pampanga, Angeles City, Clark or Subic please log on to <a href=”http://www.ClarkWineCenter.com”>http://www. ClarkWineCenter.com</a>



To inquire with the highly recommended beach resort hotel in Clark Pampanga visit <a href=”http://www.ClearwaterPhililippines.com”>http://www.ClearwaterPhililippines.com</a>


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Mimosa Golf Estate, Clark Field (Clark Airbase), Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines
Tel: (045) 599-5600 0922-870-5194 0917-520-4401 Ask for Daniel, Lito or Cosh

Banquet, Events and Functions, Manila Sales Office 3003C East Tower, Philippines Stock Exchange Center
Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel: (632) 633-1566 ask for Rea or Chay

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