If you're one of the millions in the planning stages of an over-the-top holiday feast, allow me to throw another log on an already roaring fire. What comes after dinner?
At my holiday table, there is almost always a dessert that's too good to pass up, and often an assortment of cheeses, too. Many hosts will take the path of least resistance and muddle through the dessert and/or cheese course sipping the leftover dinner wines.
There is a better way. Over the years, I've discovered a number of sure-fire after-dinner pairings that have served me well at holiday feasts past. These are but a few.
With rich chocolate desserts I favor late-bottled vintage (LBV) ports. LBV port is reasonably priced. All the top port houses, such as Sandeman, Dow's, Graham's, et al., make them. I wouldn't waste a vintage port on dessert.
Heavily spiced pies and cakes call for tawny port, preferably 10 years old. Older tawnies are best sipped on their own while curled up in front of a fire. Off-dry aromatic whites, such as pinot gris, riesling, muscat or gewurztraminer, also show well with this pairing. One of my current favorites of this genre is Navarro's 2017 Late Harvest muscat blanc.
Salty blue-veined cheeses sing when paired with Sauternes or Barsac. Chateau Rieussec Sauternes, and the Barsac from Chateau Climens and Chateau Coutet are three of my go-to wines from this unique area of Bordeaux. A little bit goes a long way, so buy the half bottle unless you have a big crowd to please. The finest domestic wine in this style is the Napa Valley's Dolce.
Aromatic, savory cheeses make me long for vintage port — the older the better. I currently have the 1963, 1977 and 2000 vintages in my cellar. Oh, what a feast that will be!