Just Desserts, Wine and Port


Last week Lori at Dracaena Wines posted a story lamenting the forgotten bottles of the cellar, reminding us to check our inventory. We don’t collect a lot in the way of whites, and we have a little more leeway with our reds. Even so, last year we found that our nine year old Steltzner Cabernet Sauvignon was on the decline and so we polished off the last couple of bottles within the month.

Prompted to go through the stock again, we found a bottle of red dessert wine that we purchased in upstate New York around 2007. This bottle brings back some fun memories of a yearly beer and wine festival at Hunter Mountain. Brisk fall weather with colorful foliage, German sausages, local wines and cheeses, all shared with good friends. In truth, we went to this event several times for the craft beer, but took one year to taste the wines instead. Our beloved dry red wines are not as well-represented in upstate New York as are whites and sweeter wines. And so we ended up with a souvenir bottle of Pure Decadence red dessert wine by Lakeland Winery in Syracuse, NY.

My first impression as the bottle is uncorked is that it smells like port, so we take out my cooking bottle of Offley Tawny port for comparison.

The Pure Decadence has some fresh fruit aromas following through on the palate with plums and a hint of dark chocolate. It’s a little bitter on the finish. It was many years ago that we tasted this wine at the Hunter Mountain event, but I remember the tasting booth promoting this product as “dessert wine”.  We try it with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and it’s not a great pairing. Did the “dessert wine” marketing mean that it should be the dessert rather than accompany it?

The Offley Tawny port has similar fruit aromas, but less of them. Kind of like regular versus extra-strength.  The palate is where the two diverge. The port is full of fresh Bing cherries with dry notes. The fruit extends to the finish and there’s no bitterness as noted in the Pure Decadence dessert wine.

Now that we’ve noticed the robust presence of cherry, we decide to make a threesome of this tasting with Cherry Kijafa (pronounced key-AH-fa). My husband’s Danish heritage is the root of his fondness for Cherry Kijafa. It’s a Danish fortified wine made with cherries and sugar beet alcohol. The back label suggests that you drink it on the rocks or in a tall glass with your favorite soft drink. An ice cube is o.k. but when it comes to mixing with soda, don’t do it! Cherry Kijafa should be treated as a cordial and sipped neat either at room temperature or slightly chilled. It is syrupy sweet and tastes like a Maraschino cherry. If you expect this fortified wine to taste like wine you’ll be very disappointed. But if you like to eat the cherry on an ice cream sundae or from the bottom of your Manhattan, give it a try.

From Pure Decadence dessert wine to Offley Tawny port to Cherry Kijafa. As one thing leads to another, you end up with three tasting notes for the price of one!

Published by J Reilly

Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse by Julia Stacey Reilly is available on Amazon.com. Follow J Reilly @boozy_lifestyle on Twitter and Instagram.

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