Sweet Nothings

Cheese board and dessert wine

The nation’s propensity for all things sweet is well documented. A recent CGA study reported the nation’s favourite cocktail is still the Mojito, while styles of wine like Moscato and Lambrusco are experiencing something of a revival. Despite this, the opportunity to capture some additional spend on dessert wines is often overlooked.

What the experts do

What’s the best way to capture spend once the main course is over? At Gordon Ramsay’s Bread St Kitchen in the City of London, you’ll find a sweet wine matched to each dessert. Head sommelier, Gergely Barsi Szabo, explains that his staff also taste the dessert wines with the matching dish on the menu. This approach “takes a bit of time but the results are great because the guys are able to describe what they had to customers.” Through education, his team wax lyrical about the matches, making it a no-brainer for the guest to try something new.

Flavour matching

When it comes to stickies, the guys at the previous soho pop-up, The Pudding Bar, with a pudding-only menu, should know a thing or two. The General Manager, Oliver Whitford-Knight said that “often the wine draws out the flavours of the dessert as well, such as an Eton mess accompanied by the Royal Tokaji Late Harvest.” With winter menus featuring indulgent puddings and decadent cheese boards, it seems wrong not to give these dishes the same treatment you might give a main course when it comes to wine matching.

It doesn’t need to be a hard sell

So what about actually convincing consumers to try them? Whitford-Knight mentioned that one of the challenges faced with dessert wine is they “haven’t been seen as that ‘accessible’ therefore The Pop up Pudding Bar used detailed descriptions to remove “anxiety around ordering a glass of something you know nothing about.” The opportunity to add value to your sales mix is extraordinary, according to Gergely; he says that despite the fact that dessert wine has had almost zero exposure, once you add some focus to it, it sells quite easily.

So what about the wines?

Morris of Rutherglen

Named after a Scottish town just outside Glasgow, Rutherglen has become world-renowned for fortified wine production despite its remote location near the Murray Darling river on the Victoria, New South Wales border. Morris of Rutherglen was established in 1859 with ten acres of vines two miles away from the current winery location. Highly lauded, Morris picked up two golds and a trophy for the Old Premium Rare Liqueur Tokay and the Cellar One Topaque, as well as a silver for the Black Label Liqueur Muscat at the recent IWC Awards.

Match with – Sticky toffee pudding, Christmas pudding, chocolate cake


Bodegas Alvear

Warmer and further inland than traditional sherry country, Montilla is famous for Pedro Ximenez, where the grape variety flourishes. The sweet wines are thick, sticky, treacle-like wines that coat your lips. Alvear’s Solera 1927 (which contains wine from before the Wall Street Crash) tastes like all your Christmases have arrived at once.

Match with – Ice cream, honey cake, chocolate fondant

Domaine Cauhape

Domaine Cauhape makes wines from Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng, local varieties in Jurancon. The best wines from this region are intense, densely fruity, with an electrifying shock of acidity. Hillsides, south eastern exposure and clay soils can be a challenge, but Henri Ramonteau and his team are up to it. Everything in Domaine Cauphape's vineyard is managed by hand and no insecticides are used anywhere in the vineyards.

Match with – Blue cheese, creme caramel, baked cheesecake

Royal Tokaji Company

Co-founded in 1990 by wine writer, Hugh Johnson, the Royal Tokaji Company has quickly become one of the most important wineries in Tokaji. Its success has played a large part in the restoration of the region’s reputation for fine wines after years of slow decline under Communist rule. From the outset, Royal Tokaji decided to concentrate on producing single-vineyard wines, made from the first growth vineyards of Mezes Maly, Nyulaszo, St Tamas and Betsek. If every you wanted to discover the meaning of unctuous liquid gold, these are the wines for you.

Match with – Eton mess, banoffee pie, panna cotta

If you’re interested in discovering ways to add value to your pudding and cheesboard sales, contact us or speak to your Account Manager.

4th November 2014

Company No. 2550982 | 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR | Call: 0845 263 6924 | AWRS Number: XVAW00000101595

Drink Aware - know the facts