Friday, July 20, 2012

Foodie Faves: Dessert Wine and Collecting the Glasses

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. So it should not be a surprise that I’m extremely fond of dessert wines as a way to top off a meal. You can serve them with dessert, or they might be the dessert itself, accompanied by bowls of nuts and dark chocolates or a cheese platter. Kitchen Goddess note: The only consideration is the sweetness – the dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert, or the wine will taste dull. So with very sweet desserts, just serve coffee and tea.

In the United States, a dessert wine is legally defined as any wine over 14% alcohol by volume, which includes all fortified wines, such as port and madeira; but most people think of dessert wines in a range from German wines like a late-harvest Gewürztraminer or Riesling, to sweet sparkling wines, to Sauternes or ice wine, my personal favorite, which is made from grapes that have been left on the vine to freeze.  A Sauterne is mellower, like a sunny day in springtime; while a good ice wine – served very cold – has a bracing sweetness that reminds me of the air at the top of a mountain.

For years, though, I had no decent dessert wine glasses. Which didn’t stop me from serving dessert wines, it just wasn’t as celebratory as I wished. But one day, I was wandering through an antiques fair in Maine, and I came across a table of assorted glassware – one of these, two of those, etc. And I decided to start a collection of single dessert wine glasses. I found some, like these, at estate sales. The one on the far right is pink depression glass.

 Some I bought at art fairs from glassblowers.

And this one, my favorite, I bought at auction. It’s a Louis Tiffany original.

You don’t have to spend a lot, though, and occasionally, I’ll trade out one that I’ve stopped loving in lieu of one that seems a bit more special or fun. A decorator friend of mine once told me that a collection shouldn’t have more than 12 items. “Once you get 12,” she said, “you should start on a new collection.” So while I now have a couple more than 12 – but only a couple – I enjoy the changing nature of the group.

They look like a party, clustered there on the tray, and I think my guests get a kick out of choosing their glass.

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