The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2014

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4  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2014 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR By all rights, it should be a golden age for dessert wines. There have never been so many to choose from and such remarkable quality in this cat- egory: brilliant Port vintages, exceptionally refined Sherries, luscious Madeiras, exquisite Beerenausleses, sublime vendange tardives, racy late-harvest Rieslings, sultry Vin Santos, amazing Tokaijis, sensual Sauternes. And yet it's the slowest-moving section on the wine list. Many restaurateurs, in order to encourage their customers to try a sweet wine at the end of the meal, have highlighted their dessert wine selection by offer- ing a separate list that is distributed with the dessert menu. But there are still very few takers. This just doesn't make sense. Americans love sweet things. We grew up on sugary drinks, cake and ice cream. Why doesn't this sweet tooth translate into a predilection for sweet wines? Perhaps at the end of the meal diners are less eager. They are sated from dinner and the wines served with dinner; they don't crave taste sensations as they did at the beginning of the meal. Once again, I am going to beat the drum for staff training. It is particularly appropriate here. The server should be prepared to suggest to the customer a pairing that will highlight and enhance the specific dessert that has been ordered. This requires a little work. At a meeting, the staff should be tasted on all desserts and be given a selection of dessert wines to try with each one. The combinations should be discussed, with the pastry chef participating, and a list of appropriate wines should be established. "You're having the lemon soufflé. The late-harvest Riesling is fantastic with that." Another way to jump-start dessert wine selection is for the server or sommelier to bring a small taste of the suggested wine to the table. This not only gives the customer a sample of what he or she might experience, but it also creates an obligation. Like many other aspects of restaurant service, the success- ful marketing of dessert wines takes dedication and work. You can't just put them on the list and expect them to sell by themselves. With the proper preparation, however, they can become an active profit center on your menu. CONTRIBUTORS Matt Furman is a photographer who enjoys catching his subjects when their guard is down, rendering portraits that are intimate, honest and thoughtful. He lives in NYC with his wife and three daughters and has shot for a variety of clients including American Airlines, TIME and Forbes magazine. Parker Smith is a Savannah, Georgia resident who grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He quickly fell in love with Chicago's world-class art and science museums and visits them at least once a year. While in college at the University of Georgia he discovered his true love of photography. He has been a commercial and editorial photographer for almost 18 years. In addition to his commercial pho- tography, he works on a variety of fine art projects, photographing everything from rodeos to interesting bits of trash he finds while wandering around the I-85 access road. He lives in Atlanta with his wife of 16 years, their three very hungry boys, and two adorable Italian greyhounds. Hardy Wilson grew up on a large cattle ranch in Northern California, where he spent count- less hours roaming the countryside with his old Yashica camera and dog. He currently photographs a wide range of subjects, and his work has been published in numerous national and international publications. Hardy still lives among nature and falls asleep listening to the coyotes and fog horns outside his Presidio apartment in San Francisco. He is a huge fan of cold beer, slow-cooked meats and the 49ers. Hailing from Butte, Montana, Lisa Wareham wants to live in a world where sleep isn't necessary, dogs can talk and every night is ladies night. Her work has appeared in publica- tions such as The Wall Street Journal and Montana magazine, and has been showcased in galleries like the Charles W. Clark Chateau and the Maine Stope Gallery. When she's not obsessing over how to light an image, you can find her planning "awkward photo" charity events, exploring old speakeasies and taking care of two tiny human beings she co-created. How Sweet It Is

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