3 Affordable Dessert-Wine Strategies for Sauternes Lovers on a Budget
If you enjoy Sauternes and other dessert wines but have sticker shock whenever you visit the dessert-wine section of your local wine store, you’re not alone.
Dessert wine is expensive because its labor-intensive to produce, and frankly because it’s worth it.
But dessert wine doesn’t have to be expensive, especially with Sauternes regularly starting at $40 and reaching into the hundreds of dollars.
Here are three strategies for a more-affordable, dessert-wine experience.
1. Look for 375 mL half-bottles of dessert wine rather than full 750 mL bottles.
An easy way to experience dessert wine more affordably is to literally cut the baby in half.
After all, a little bit of dessert wine goes a long way, and a half bottle will often suffice for an entire evening when it’s just you and a few guests.
I sometimes hesitate to open a 750 mL bottle because I’m afraid of not finishing it.
Half bottles eliminate this hesitation, while also being more budget conscious.
And at the end of the day, most people only need a little bit of dessert wine to feel satisfied and to get a full dessert-wine experience.
2. Look for dessert wine from these under-the-radar Bordeaux appellations and denominations.
While Sauternes gets all the ink and glory, its nearby step-brothers-and-sisters are nearly-equally attractive (sort of like James Franco and Dave Franco).
Look for sweet wines from these Bordeaux regions which produce dessert wines of good quality but usually at more affordable prices.
- Bordeaux Moelleux
- Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux
- Saint Macaire
Wines from these regions can offer a range of sweetness options from medium-sweet to luscious and can be served as an aperitif or a dessert replacement.
Dessert wines with a darker, golden color will tend to be sweeter and more luscious, but don’t hesitate to experiment across the many hues of lemon and gold that are dessert wine.
Here are a few dessert wines I’ve tried from under-the-radar appellations of Bordeaux:
- Château des Arroucats, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont 2017, France (Wine Casual, 91 Points)
- Château La Rame 2016, Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont, France (Wine Casual, 93 Points)
- Vignobles Darriet Château Dauphiné Rondillon, Cuvée d’Or 2009, Loupiac, France (Wine Casual, 94 Points)
3. Remember, sparkling wine and cider can be served for dessert too.
Dessert-wine experiences can also be found outside the dessert-wine section of your wine store.
Mosey over to the sparkling wine section and look for Lambrusco, sparkling shiraz from Australia, or sparkling wine with the words secco, demi-sec, doux or dulce on the label if you’re trying to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Sparkling apple cider with residual sweetness can also work well too.
These sparkling alternatives offer varying levels of sweetness that can give your guests a dessert-wine experience that they will enjoy.
Sparkling wines and ciders pair well with fruit and toasted-nut platters.
Below are some sparkling wines I’ve tried that you might also:
- Depréville, Clairette De Die Tradition, Methode Ancestrale, Rhone, France (Wine Casual, 88 Points)
- Shingleback, Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia (Wine Casual, 90 Points)
- Bellwether, Cherry Street Hard Cider, New York (Wine Casual, 91 Points)
Hopefully these three strategies will help you enjoy more affordable dessert-wine experiences, more often.