03 May, 2010

Zindandel for dessert?

You've probably tried White Zinfandel at some point in your travels through wine, in fact, it was probably one of the first wines you ever tried. And chances are you've also come to appreciate, or even fallen in love with Zindandel's spicy, gutsy complexity. But have you ever tried a Late Harvest Zinfandel?

As the name suggests, Late Harvest means that the grapes are left to hang on the vine after the normal harvest time. They are picked later so they are riper and have a greater percentage of sugar.  When you see the words you can be assured that the wine you're looking at is a dessert wine. While many people cringe at the thought of dessert wine, I think they are delicious and often perfer to have a good dessert wine over dessert.

On a recent trip to Sonoma County, I visited Bella Winery on the recommendation of a fellow wine lover. I had never heard of it, but was eager to try anything this friend liked. What a treat. Bella is a small production winery that is not only is it beautiful but the people are wonderfully welcoming.

This is their wonderful, inviting lawn in front of the the tasting room.

 They had their caves open and beautifully lit by candle light the day we visited. (Pardon the picture quality as I only had my iPhone with me that day.)

It was here that I got to try a wonderful Late Harvest Zinfandel paired with a peanut butter cup dotted with a little sea salt. The wine had great depth and complexity with lots of dried fruit flavors; it was dark, rich, spicy and smooth. It had enough umph (a technical term) to stand up to the classic partnership of peanut butter and chocolate. This would be an amazing way to charm your guests at the end of a meal. It's simple, fun and delicious. Kind of takes you back to childhood, sans the alcohol, of course.

Now, the woman in the tasting room wouldn't tell me where the peanut butter cups were from, but I recently came across similar ones at Trader Joe's. Add a bit of Maldon Sea Salt on top and you've got a winner. Give it a try and let me know what you think. 


  1. Do you think it would be bad to have this pairing for breakfast?! It's before 9am right now but a glass of wine and chocolate sounds wonderful to me right now. But, a great suggestion on how to end a meal.

  2. I tried a late harvest zin for the first time when I was in Napa a couple weeks ago. It was from Vermille wines (super small, in downtown Calistoga--only went b/c the woman put together a very nice package of wineries for me before the trip). They focus on Zinfandels and had a late harvest option. If it wasn't for your blog, I wouldn't have known what to expect, but it was surprisingly good--thanks for the info!