Too often we forget that sweet wines are great sipping beverages during the hot days of summer, especially when served chilled and paired with fresh fruit or lively cheeses — a great seasonal substitute for afternoon tea.
Here are six such wines from classic, sun-drenched areas of southwestern France, northern Italy, and the coast and islands of Sicily.
Marchesi di Gresy “La Serra” Moscato d’Asti ($16). Think of this as a lightly sparkling wine with the flavor of macaroons, utterly charming, with good acidity; serve it well chilled with some fresh fruit nearby.
Alessandro di Camporeal “Kaid” Sicilia Late-Harvest Syrah 2014 ($13/500 ml). Sweet syrahs, whether sparkling or still (as is the case here), seems to be an acquired taste that we’ve not yet acquired — but for those who have, this one has mulled mulberry flavors with a funky savoriness in the finish.
Domaine de la Coume du Roy Muscat de Rivesaltes 2014 ($20). Lovely floral nose with lots of vanilla woven in, full and not delicate, with a little pétillance and a somewhat sugary texture.
Thunevin-Calvet Maurey 2005 ($28). Figgy nose with flavors of figs, prunes, and other dried fruits, good texture, and very good acidity at the end which makes this fortified wine seem drier than it is.
Domaine la Tour Vieille Banyuls Rimage 2014 ($29/500 ml). A combination of plump fruit and dried fruit aromas and lots of intertwined plummy and dried fruit flavors, indicative of a younger vintage; good structure — fruity but not overly rich.
Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria 2013 ($39/375 ml). From a windy, stony island between Sicily and Tunisia, this passito has zingy orange colors with flavors of light cherry and brioche; full and rich-bodied but with lots of great finishing acidity — a manly sweet wine.