Trolling the local Trader Joe’s to grab a last-minute bottle of moscato (will they even carry my favorite Italian dessert wine, I wondered? Well, sort of: there was one moscato, but only a non-dessert, not-so-sweet version) to go with the peach crostata Joe was planning as dessert for the dinner he was making for a few friends — some old, some new — on our terrace tonight, I just about passed right over this bottle, until my eye caught Pantelleria! Since Michele has blogged quite a bit about her journeys to this small Italian island that is closer to Libya than Sicily, I figured it was worth a try. Maybe not the moscato I had come for, I reasoned, but better than coming home empty-handed. After serving a different nice Italian wine with each course, how could we serve dessert without a bit of something sweet in a glass to accompany it?
Pantelleria came through! This simple Passito is not a fancy dessert wine, but it’s not expensive, either, and as an accompaniment to Joe’s peach crostata, it was just right. Few of our guests expect dessert wines; they’re surprised when we offer anything besides coffee or tea as we serve dessert. But nearly everyone who accepts is pleasantly surprised: as with any food, dessert can be wonderfully complimented (and complemented) by the right wine.
The secret that purveyors of expensive Sauternes don’t want you to know is that sweet wine doesn’t have to be pricey to work well with dessert. Paired with a fine cheese course, perhaps, something more refined and expensive is appropriate, and I will never turn down an expensive Sauternes (unless there is moscato on the menu, in which case I will always order that!). But at the end of even a very fine meal, a simple taste of a sweet wine chosen to go with the flavors of your dessert (light and golden for fruit desserts, red or purple and richer for chocolate and the like) is the icing on the cake. Any dessert can become a special occasion when paired with a pop of delicious, sweet, silken liquid–and more so, perhaps, when your guests are not expecting the accompaniment.
Does it have the long finish, the subtleties, the refinement of a fine Sauternes, or even a really good, bubbly moscato? Of course not! It’s $8.99 for a reason! But as a light, sweet finish to a summer meal, paired with a wonderful home-made peach crostata, this Passito from Pantelleria was just peachy! A bargain find from the island Michele is making famous!