But First…Dessert (with the French Winophiles)

I remember the first time I sipped a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, a vin doux naturel (naturally sweet wine) from France’s Southern Rhône Valley. It was with Patrick Soard and his daughter Justine, of Domaine de Fenouillet, on their property – neighbors with Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail.


French wine label, how to read French Wine label

“Grower” (Récolant) Vin Doux Naturel on the foil. Credit: Jill Barth


The experience was textural as much as flavorful. The balance of sweet and savory, viscosity and lightness, of freshness and stability – this presented a new context for me. In the realm of French dessert wines, one seeks to find new ways to describe what’s in one’s mouth, not unlike a frantic game of Pictionary where players hope that someone out there gets it, and the struggle becomes understanding.

In December’s French Winophiles segment we call upon active wine writers, pulling from them the phrases and impressions to describe the lovely experience of drinking French dessert wines.

Blanc, grenache blanc, sweet wine, dessert wine

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from Domaine de Fenouillet. Credit: Jill Barth

Join us on Saturday, December 16th at 10am CST on Twitter. Find the hashtag #Winophiles and explore our questions and answers, photos and articles, recipes and travel plans.

Here’s what’s on >

Discovering Maury AOC with Susannah at Avvinare

Quince Crumble with Lillet Blanc Cordials created by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Affordable France: Bordeaux Reds and Sauternes Wines #Winophiles served by Gwen at Wine Predator

2010 Cave de Rasteau “Signature” Vin Doux Naturel and Brutti Ma Buoni #Winophiles written by Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

2011 Châteu Grand-Jauga Sauternes presented by Amber at Napa Food and Vine

The Sweet Secret of Barsac: Château Doisy-Daëne #Winophiles comes from Lynn at Savor the Harvest 

But First, Dessert! Get to Know French Dessert Wines #Winophiles with Liz at What’s in that Bottle

Revealing Roussillon’s Sweeter Side from Michelle at Rockin Red Blog

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sauternes with Jeff at FoodWineClick!

How to Pair Sauternes with Dessert served up by Jane at Always Ravenous

Here at L’Occasion we tuck into Dessert Wines from Southern France

4 thoughts on “But First…Dessert (with the French Winophiles)

    1. I agree. I actually looked back on my notes from the tasting and the phrased ‘grilled lemon’ was listed. Such an interesting profile. I need to look up who said this, but someone once wrote that it felt like dissolving lace on the tongue. YES!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree that Muscat is so distinctive. So much so that I believe I would have no trouble in a blind tasting of sweet white wines in picking it out of the group.
    Heading back home to Connecticut the other day from a two week sojourn in warmer climes we stopped in Virgina at a wine shop to see what local wines they had, which are impossible to find near us. I was especially delighted to pick up some half bottles of 2014 Muscat Beaumes de Venise from Domaine des Bernardins. We opened one in front of a warm fire last night and were in heaven at first, then wondered why we had gotten away from it for so many years now. After all, we have a nice trove of sweet wines in our cellar, but nary a Muscat. My only explanation, given that its my job to keep the cellar stocked, was that it is so rare to come across a vintaged Muscat. When in France we made annual buying trips to Jaboulet in Tain l’Hermitage and as we loaded up the car Gerard would present Benedicte with a gift of six 750 ml bottles of his Muscat Beaumes des Venise (they did not do 375’s), which he knew she really enjoyed. He explained the first time we tasted his Muscat that they were one of the few to offer it in a vintage year. In order to legally show a vintage the appellation requires the fermentation be stopped with an alcohol made from the same vintage. Through troublesome to do, Gerard felt the best examples reflected that unique tradition. I agreed with him then, and as of last night still do.


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