Winemakers get sweet on dessert-flavored concoctions

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2013 - 1:39 PM

The wine world is getting its “just desserts.”

Next month, brands such as Cheesecake White Wine and Raspberry Ripple Red will join the likes of ChocoVine and Chocolat­Rouge on local store shelves. These $13 bottles from Birthday Cake Vineyards and Ice Cream Cellars are being touted as “unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before.”

Sounds about right.

For decades there have been wines that pair well with chocolate — buttery chardonnays with milk chocolate, hearty zinfandels with dark chocolate, tawny Port with either. There also are dessert wines infused with just a bit of chocolate: Rosenblum “Desiree,” Trentadue 6-Year-Old Chocolate Port and Minnesota’s own Alexis Bailly Chocolate Reserve.

But these new beverages, which blend in and emphasize confectionery essences, are a different breed — more dessert than wine.

For veteran wine buyer Bill Abrahamson, “It’s wine by label only. It’s more akin to Bailey’s [Irish Cream]. It’s basically just a cream liqueur, but the alcohol happens to be wine instead of Irish whiskey or brandy.”

Abrahamson, whose Northgate/Top Ten stores also carry “a whole legion of flavored moscatos,” said such concoctions are intended for a different audience. “I don’t think they’re targeting wine drinkers,” he said. “They’re targeting people who would drink wine coolers 30 years ago, people who are buying it not as wine but as an alcoholic beverage.”

Flavored beverages probably are a good fit in this market. Back in the 1950s, Minneapolis distiller Phillips invented flavored vodkas, which have gained great favor in recent years along with combos such as honeyed Scotch and espresso tequila.

Plus, some of these vinous blends have a ready-made catchphrase:

“Let them drink cake.” □

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