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dessert and wine service

What Are Dessert Wine Glasses?

Of all wine styles, dessert wine is the rarest and most luxurious. Sweet wine is less typical than one thinks; grapes with high sugar concentrations are hard to grow, even by the most talented viticulturists.

Sweet wine is dessert in its own right and a lovely way of ending dinner parties on a high note. Of course, like all wine styles, there are a few things to consider if you want to help the luscious wine shine, including using crystal dessert wine glasses. What are dessert wine glasses? Let’s find out. Here’s what you need to know about sweet wine service. 

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Are Dessert Wine Glasses Necessary?

Your wine glass collection is not complete without dessert wine glasses, even if you don’t drink sweet wine that often. Those times you do, you need the right stemware; otherwise, you risk ruining the experience.

Dessert wine is more complex than dry table wine; it can be red or white and varies in sweetness. Of course, sweet wine is more than its sweetness — these are amongst the most aromatic wines on earth, and you need the right wine glass to capture its aromas. The secret is in the wine glass.

First things first. What is dessert wine? Let’s just say the proper term for these wines is ‘sweet wine,’ as you don’t have to serve them as an after-dinner drink. In fact, most sweet wines are compatible with a variety of savory foods, and not just dessert.

sweet wine with cheese and grapes

Dessert wine is wine with residual sugar. Only the lesser examples have added sugar, since what makes dessert wine special is that its sugar comes from the grapes themselves.

You can make dessert wine by fermenting late-harvested grapes. You can even allow the grapes to shrivel or freeze before turning them into wine. The goal is the same: achieving a grape with extraordinary amounts of sugar.

Other dessert wines retain their natural sweetness through fortification, like Port. In this case, the winemaker stops fermentation by adding a brandy splash to the must. The yeast dies, and the remaining sugar never gets converted into alcohol.

There are as many types of dessert wine as in any other category. The good news? You don’t need all that many specialty glasses, a few crystal dessert wine glasses of the right shape will do.

Serve Dessert Wine The Right Way

When purchasing crystal dessert wine glasses, ensure you’re dealing with an artisan product, ideally hand-blown and spun thin. These wine glasses should be as delicate as your finest stemware. Actually, dessert wine glasses are often more delicate, as they’re usually small — you don’t need a wide bowl to enjoy an ounce or two of liquid gold.

tray of desserts and dessert wines in glasses
Speaking of enjoyment, serve dessert wine cold, but not refrigerator cold. These wines are often fairly aromatic, and you want all those aromas to reach your nose. Temperatures between 43-50°F should work for most dessert wines.

Types of Dessert Wine Glasses

As mentioned above, there are several types of wine glasses designed for sweet wine. Some, like the Spanish ‘copita,’ are insanely small, while others are wide, like brandy snifters.

The purpose of all these wine glasses is to bring out the sweetness in wine and allow the taster to pick up its sweet scents. You’ll surely find a wineglass style from the various shapes and sizes available to complement your collection.

As long as your stemware is made with fine crystal by true artisans, you’ll be alright. The question is, will you be ready to serve a bottle of sweet wine the next time you have friends over for dinner?

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