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Sweet Wines for Adult Palates

Malaga. Concord. For years, these were the only sweet wines on the market. And for many of us these thick, heavy, red wines conjure up delightful childhood memories of Holiday and Sabbath meals. But these wines were supposed to be for kids and for kiddush, adults were supposed to have more sophisticated palates. Times have changed.

The kosher marketplace for sweet wines has undergone a small revolution. Sweet is no longer synonymous with thick and heavy. And more surprisingly, the best of these new sweet wines to hit the market - are quality white wines.

These wines are in a genre to themselves. Unlike Cabernets, they are not dry. They are not fruity as are Reislings nor are they oakey like Chardonnay. And unlike the sweet wines of yesteryear they are not cloyingly sweet and not sticky. Most of these wines fall into the category of dessert wines, but don't let that put you off. If you like the taste, these wines can be enjoyed with everything from appetizers, especially pates and smoked fish and of course for dessert.

What makes these wines different from other wines? Today's sweet wines are higher in alcohol than the average wine, they come in smaller sized bottles (500 ml and even 375 ml), are for the most part moderately priced. The wines are produced by most Israeli vineyards. The secret to these wines is that most of them are brandy-fortified. The influence of the brandy is felt in taste and texture, the wines just seem to roll off your tongue.

The way to best enhance the flavor of today's sweet white wines is to serve them well chilled and in tall, slender smaller wine glasses. Like all good wines, the longer the wine is allowed to breathe, the better the taste. Sweet white wines come in a variety of shades, from pale and almost translucent to deeper shades of honey and amber. The darker the wine the older. The colors serve as an attractive addition to the table.

In many families, tradition dictates that sweet wine be served at the Pesach Seder. These new sweet Israeli wines will certainly make this year's Seder different from all others.

Yarden Muscat
500 ML, NIS 37

Carmel Semillion Late Harvest 1998
500 ML., NIS 82

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Micah Halpern is the wine reviewer. See other articles and reviews by Micah Halpern.
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