By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Looking for a special kind of sweet treat for your favorite Valentine? A dessert wine can be just the ticket if you want to skip commonplace chocolate.
People tend to have a sweet tooth, and that translates to wine. Here’s our primer on various sweet wines you can try.
— Late-harvest wines: A late-harvest wine is just that — it is harvested later than most other grapes. This gives the grapes time to dehydrate a bit and concentrate their sugars.
Hogue Cellars, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Kiona Vineyards Winery make late-harvest Rieslings that are superb, broadly distributed and inexpensive (typically around $10).
— Fortified wines: Basically, brandy or another spirit is added to the wine partway through fermentation. The result is a sweet, high-alcohol wine that often ages beautifully. One of our favorites is Maison de Padgett in the Yakima Valley.
— Ice wines: Some of the best in the world are made in British Columbia. Basically, wineries wait until the grapes freeze on the vine, then they go out and harvest the grapes, squeeze out the sweet nectar, then slowly ferment it. The result is a honey-like wine that’s high in sugar and low in alcohol.
Kiona Vineyards Winery makes a superb ice wine from Chenin Blanc that sells for about $25.
— Fruit wines: While some fruit wines are finished dry, many are on the sweeter side. Raspberry wines are especially enchanting because they smell and taste like, well, fresh raspberries.
A few wineries in the Northwest specialize in fruit wines. Oak Knoll in Oregon makes one of the best raspberry wines we’ve tasted.
— Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information website. www.greatnorthwestwine.com.