How Sweet It Is!
Written by Denise Kotopoulos on May 23, 2011
When you “Shop our Cellar” on the Traveling Vineyard website, you’ll notice we have the two standard categories for wines – “Red Wine” and “White Wine.” No surprise. But, tucked beneath these two traditional groups, is a tag called “Fun and Fizzy”. Not red, not white, and certainly not boring!
This is our category for the unique, semi-sparkling sweet wines that the Traveling Vineyard has become known for. It all began back a few years ago when we began marketing Moscato d’Asti (pronounced “Moh-SCAH-toh DAH-stee”) the slightly effervescent, low-alcohol dessert wine made using the Muscat grape from the Asti region of Piedmont in northern Italy. This style of wine is referred to by the locals as “frizzante” (pronounced “fri-zahn-tay”) for its stimulating mouthfeel. It’s not a still wine, but it’s not fully sparkling either. It’s somewhere in the middle. We think it’s just plain fun to say, too!
Fissata Red is the next generation sweet “frizzante” wine from the Traveling Vineyard for the “sweet tooth” in all of us. The name Fissata Red is Italian for “being fixated upon something”. We predict that’s how you’ll feel after just one sip! Fissata Red is the kind of wine you’ll want to tell all your friends about. Once you try a glass you’ll be quickly pouring a second. And you can afford to. It’s low alcohol registering at just 6%, not the 12-14% typical of most table wines.
Like our Moscato d’Asti wines, the Fissata Red is from Piedmont, Italy, but unlike Moscato, it shines a beautiful reddish pink color instead. Three indigenous grapes, Brachetto, Freisa, and Malvasia, were chosen to make Fissata Red. Brachetto grapes make a light-bodied wine that’s big on strawberries, cherries and raspberries. It is highly sought after and rare because it is made only in limited quantities. Malvasia grapes offer pear, spice and fresh fruity flavors that are considerably sweet. Freisa grapes are a light red varietal with high sugars, high acids, high tannins and a light bitter almond quality. Overall, the blend is reminiscent of fresh red fruits – aromas and flavors of black raspberry (currant), black cherry, and rose petals melded with additional floral notes of violets and orchids.
It’s interesting to discover dessert wines that aren’t well known – and even more interesting to experiment with their food pairings. While our Fissata Red is not “ChocoVine”, it’s an “off the beaten path” wine that’s very choco-friendly! This fragrant concoction is a charming, delightful wine, delectable on its own. But, there’s no need to go it alone. Try a few of our favorite extravagant dessert recipes all of which make use of chocolate.
Dessert: The Grand Finale
As a general rule, you don’t want to serve anything too cold with a dessert wine. With a dish that’s ice cold, your numbed taste buds won’t be able to sense all that’s going on with the wine in your mouth. Also, it’s not a sugar fest, so nothing ultra-sweet either. The dessert should equal to or less sweet than the wine. Something as simple as a bowl of fresh strawberries is divine with Fissata Red – pure decadence, not to mention its aphrodisiacal qualities! But if you want to go all out in the “sweet department”, offer the universal crowd pleaser, chocolate. Wine and chocolate – these are two things Piedmont is very good at!
Chocolate lovers, pull out your fondue pot – sticks and all! Line up a few bowls of warm artisanal chocolates alongside your dessert wine glasses and you’re ready to sip and dip! Shamelessly douse fresh strawberries, raspberries and cherries in rich chocolatey goodness . These fruits are the very same flavors that make Fissata Red so fantastic! Chocolate with a high percentage cacao (60%-70%, less sugar content) is the best type with dessert wines and will work magnificently with a lighter wine like Fissata Red. Venezuela, Jamaica, Madagascar and Costa Rica are exceptional sources.
If your fondue set went out with the 70’s, rent a chocolate fountain or offer a chocolate candy buffet. (Did you know that Fissata Red was actually crafted to taste like a Jolly Rancher hard candy?) You’ll be a sweet sensation with your book club, garden club, at a bridal or baby shower when you pour this unique wine. Stylishly toast “in the pink”. And, because Fissata is low in alcohol, it’s a fizzy delight that’s perfect at a day-time affair.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies
These chocolate treats are “ooey-gooey” taken to the Nth degree! Their thick creamy texture makes the ultimate contrast to the effervescent nature of Fissata Red. The cherry-berry nuances in the wine connect with the raspberry flavor in the brownies.
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sugar
1 egg yolk, large
3/4 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c raspberry jam
Prepare filling: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ square baking pan with foil allowing excess to hang over pan edges. Grease foil. Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla in food processor until smooth.
Mix batter: Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Microwave butter and chocolate in large bowl, stirring occasionally until smooth about 1 min. Whisk in 1/4 cup jam and let cool slightly. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla to chocolate mixture, stirring until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated.
Layer filling: Microwave remaining jam until warm, about 30 seconds; stir till smooth. Scrape half of batter in prepared pan. Dollop filling over batter and spread in even layer. Dollop warm jam over filling and using tip of knife, swirl jam through filling. Spread remaining batter evenly over filling.
Bake Brownies: Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with very few crumbs attached (50-60 mins.) Cool in pan on wire rack for at least 2 hours. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan and cut into 1-1/2″ squares. Top with raspberry infused dark chocolate or white chocolate slivers and fresh raspberries. (Brownies can be refrigerated in airtight container for 2 days.)