Finish on a sweet note: 8 sweet and fortified wines to round off Christmas dinner

12th Dec 18 | Lifestyle

You'll want to save these deliciously decadent tipples for last, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

End of dinner festive feel with port in wine glasses

It’s that time of year when you need to take a second look in the drinks cabinet, so that you’re fully prepared for the unexpected.

Not that we’re suggesting you haven’t stocked up on enough wine for Christmas entertaining and impromptu festivities – but don’t forget that what you serve after dinner can be just as important as the first flute of fizz, and yet it’s often an afterthought.

Cate Blanchett Drinking GIF by Film Society of Lincoln Center - Find & Share on GIPHY

So plan ahead, and you’ll be sure to leave the right lasting impression when you tot up the Christmas pud with a golden elixir, or lift the Stilton with a fragrant sherry. Here’s a selection of our favourites to shop right now.

Sweet somethings…

1. Tesco Finest Sauternes 2015, France (£12, 37.5cl, Tesco)

Tesco Finest Sauternes, France

Serve well chilled and this delectable Bordeaux blonde from a superb vintage will complement a well laced trifle with fresh fruit, vanilla custard and cream. Pure nectar, with notes of orange, honey and exotic candied fruits, the sweetness and richness is balanced by refreshing acidity on the silky finish. Also works like a dream with duck liver pâté.

2. Blandy’s 5-Year-Old Reserva Madeira (currently reduced to £11.99 from £14.99, 50cl, Waitrose Cellar)

Blandy's 5 Year Old Reserva Madeira

Expect a rich, sweet palate, with the classic Madeira notes of dried fruits, toffee and spice with a streak of acidity. Again, serve chilled and it’s a perfect match with mulled fruit compote, traditional Christmas cake and cheeses.

3. Seifried Estate ‘Sweet Agnes’ Nelson Riesling 2016, New Zealand (£16.29, 37.5cl, Waitrose)

Seifried Nelson Sweet Agnes Riesling, New Zealand

How sweet she is… This multiple award-winner (including a Decanter Platinum) has been cited as quietly powerful, and we love its fragrant nose of orange citrus and white flowers, leading to a luscious palate balanced by bright fruit and natural acidity. The succulent fruity sweetness tastes heavenly with fruity desserts and chocolate puddings.

4. Barbadillo San Rafael Oloroso Dulce Sweet Sherry Wine, Spain (£14.64, Amazon)

Barbadillo San Rafael Oloroso Dulce, Spain

With some Pedro Ximenez grapes (PX for short) for sweetness and figginess, this deep, rich sherry has aromas of dried fruit, nuts, plums and raisins, against a subtle oaky background. Syrupy and smooth on the palate with a long finish, save it for the final flourish and savour with blue cheeses.

5. Gonzalez Byass Noe 30 Year Old Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Spain (£20.95, 37.5cl, The Whisky Exchange)

Gonzalez Byass Noe, 30 Year Old Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Spain
(Gonzalez Byass/PA)

Meanwhile, the sinfully sweet, rich, intense flavours of this luxurious sweet sherry has just the right measure of raisiny richness to fuel the intense flavours and heavy fruit of Christmas pudding, mince pies and brandy butter. Simply scrumptious, you can also drizzle Noe over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Tawny tipples and a jewel of a red…

6. Taste the Difference Special Reserve Port, Portugal (£10, Sainsbury’s)

TTD Special Reserve Port, Portugal

Remarkably drinkable, we can’t help thinking we’re missing a trick by not drinking port more often – especially when one of the world’s greatest (this is made by famous Symington Family Estates) and very modestly priced ports tastes this good. Extremely moreish with an inviting red fruit character, the velvety smooth, plum pudding and sweet, rich cherry notes pair beautifully with Christmas fruit cake or a Christmas Yule log.

7. Taylor’s Reserve Tawny Port, Portugal (£39.95, 1L, The Whisky Exchange)

Taylor's Reserve Tawny Port

Port and cheese are natural bedfellows, especially with a beautifully mature port such as this blend of reserve tawny ports, with its complex nose of plums, fig and butterscotch, and melded flavours of rich fruitcake and ripe plums. The sweetness of the port marries beautifully with the fruity, salty, nuttiness of mimolette, a firm, French cow’s milk cheese worth seeking out.

8. Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2015, New Zealand (£19.99, The New Zealand House of Wine)

Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, New Zealand
(Villa Maria/PA)

Prefer a fine red with your comté, nutty gouda, or even a creamy Boursin? Then why not round off the most important meal of the year with Wine of the Year & Cabernet of the Year – a double medal-winner for Villa Maria at the Australasian Winestate magazine awards. With alluring aromas of blackberries, cassis, herbs, roasted coffee bean and cedar, additional notes of thyme and spicy nuances add depth, while fine tannins ride on the velvety smooth finish.

© Press Association 2018