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Dessert wines are produced worldwide

The most famous of all dessert wines has to be the frighteningly expensive Ch?teau d'Yquem, which is a late-harvest dessert wine made from S?millon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Sauternes district, in the Bordeaux region of France.

Therein lies the secret, as the best dessert wine must be produced from late harvested grapes, as we discuss further down the page.

It would be nice if we could all be able to buy a bottle or two of Ch?teau d'Yquem now and then, but for ordinary mortals there are always more inexpensive dessert wines produced worldwide from the Muscat or Muscato grape, and these provide us with just as much enjoyment when rounding off a fine dinner with like minded people.

One could say that these wonderfully sweet, golden wines are as rare and valuable as hen?s teeth, especially so since they are only produced during vintages when a friendly mold called Botrytis cinerea, or "noble rot," occurs naturally on the grapes.

The weather has to cooperate of course. Botrytis likes cool, misty mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. The grapes are left on the vine later into the harvest season and the mold causes them to shrivel, producing concentrated, rich flavours and higher sugar content.

Having to depend on the weather so late in the season means that growers take a huge gamble with their crop. Hoping that their skills, combined with the right weather, will allow them to produce a bumper crop of grapes. And therefore, make them a small fortune into the bargain.

The production of these fickle wines is quite miraculous when you think about it. Too rainy or damp and the crop is finished so far as producing dessert wine is concerned.

This is why late harvest dessert wines are some of the most sought-after wines in the world, and they are at their most wonderful best when paired with the right dessert such as mouthwatering fresh fruit, custards, caramelised fruit and nuts.