Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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Posts Tagged ‘Samson Estates Winery’

Dessert wine and ice cream, a grown up treat

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Our mantra for this recommended pairing: You must keep an open mind.

It’s supposed to be summer, right? And during summer shouldn’t we all give ourselves a little treat every now and then?

We think so.

After reading the June 10 food page, we started thinking about ice cream and wine and how we could marry the two.

Over the years of tasting many glasses of dessert wine — from bone dry to sugar encrusted — there were occasions when it was suggested to pour the sweetest or the most fruit-forward over ice cream.

It’s a great idea, but there’s one rule that should never be broken when considering ice cream and dessert wine: The wine you pour over the ice cream should be as sweet as, or sweeter than, the ice cream.

In the late 1980s, Joann Bentryn of the famous Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery strawberry wine, suggested pouring their delightful dessert wine over ice cream.

The fruit-forward flavor of the strawberries is a great topping to a creamy vanilla ice cream.

A few years later, winemakers started adding chocolate to their dessert wines — combining wine and chocolate in a bottle.  Deco, a port-like wine, also has chocolate in it. These too encourage pouring the wine over a good vanilla ice cream.

(To clarify, when describing flavors in wine, experts may say it tastes like raspberries or chocolate, but it doesn’t mean they actually exist in wine. That’s the beauty of a grape, it’s a mimic.)

Chocolate in wine might not hit the mark for everyone’s sweet tooth. Luckily for the non-chocolate lovers out there, there’s plenty of pure berry dessert wines — like the Bentryn’s strawberry wine — to choose from.

Randall Graham has a Bonny Doon raspberry dessert wine and Samson Estates Winery has a selection of berry wines like its Blu, a wine made from Northwest blueberries. They also have a selection of other dessert wines that they recommend pouring over ice cream.

These wines are made without grapes, which means the tannic acid found in grape skins is also absent. Without the tannic acid, the wines should be had sooner rather than later — so don’t wait for that special occasion.

The sweetest wine on the planet is from a grape called Pedro Ximenez. PX is a very sweet fortified style of wine from Jerez, Spain. Most sherry houses make a PX, as it is known. Its caramel, nutty flavors make this match delightfully perfect for a creamy scoop of vanilla — or a scoop of chocolate if you’re longing for that chocolate infusion.

So the next time you want to give yourself a summer treat, consider a grown-up version of ice cream with a dessert wine topping.

Cheers!

Brynn and Mary


What we’re drinking: Blueberry dessert wine

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Brynn writes:

The other night my husband and I discovered a dessert wine we’d tucked away in a dark corner of our kitchen cabinets a few months ago.

The long, skinny neck of the electric blue bottle was sticking out as I was trying to shove more pots and pans in the confined space. Time to make more room I thought, as I pulled the bottle from the shelf, careful to not hit it against the ceramic pots piled precariously high.

The wine is from Samson Estates Winery, a family owned winery located in Everson which is in the Nooksack Valley and also the Puget Sound AVA. (Unfamiliar with Everson? Think Lynden and Washington’s border with Canada). They produce artisan dessert wines, as well as artisan fruit wines and varietal wines.

We bought the Blu, a blueberry dessert wine.

We tried the wine with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream, pouring it over the dessert as recommended on the label.

The nose of the wine — in my opinion — wasn’t too appealing. In fact it reminded me of stinky feet, or stinky French cheese. Luckily the flavors were considerably better.

Wild Pacific Northwest blueberries are present in this wine, which they should be considering that’s all it’s made of. The alcohol content is high — around 16 percent.

I didn’t like the wine poured on the ice cream, I felt the blueberry flavor was lost and all I experienced was the sharpness of the alcohol (it reminded me of taking a shot). But I poured a little in our dessert wine glasses to have after we finished the ice cream, and found I enjoyed the wine from the glass much more than from the bowl with a spoon. (My husband however enjoyed it over the ice cream, and in fact just had it again for a treat last night.)

We bought the wine at, where else, Fred Meyer in Port Orchard. Look for the long skinny neck, silver top and light blue lettering. I believe it was around $15, maybe a little less with our FM Rewards card.


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