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Jun 22, 2000 03:24 PM

Dessert Wine Search

  • d

A few years back, there was a short-lived Italian restaurant on First Avenue in the low 80s called Tre Pazzi. The host used to pour a complimentary dessert wine for his customers and it was really wonderful -- not too sweet or thick, but light and even slightly citrus-tasting, if I remember it correctly. It was an Australian wine from Brown Brothers, made from muscat grapes, I think.

I'm trying to find it now and nobody at any of the liquor stores I've tried knows where to get it. Perhaps one of you might be able to help? I'm having a dinner party next week and this would be the perfect finish to our meal.

Ever hopeful and, in advance, extremely grateful,

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  1. I love Australian "stickies" of all kinds, but alas don't know a muscat from Brown Brothers, who I know more for reds. Let's hope some real wine person comes to your rescue in time. I am just a humble chowhound, however. Does Hugh Johnson read this board? Hugh? Where are you? Get with the program, Hugh.

    That said, though,if you have a party coming up soon here's a suggestion: just buy a couple of bottles of Italian muscat, don't worry about the label, and try em before the party. Or even throw in a California or two...Robert Picota comes to yes, try that...and I even remember a Robert Mondavi that was pretty darned good once upon a time.

    If you pick up three Italian muscats you never heard of, chances are one will work. Not moscato d' asti, which fizzes. Not that that is bad, but I am sure Brown Brothers didn't bubble.

    And look for Picota too, California. Underrated stuff.

    Muscat is so underrated overall, in fact, you can find real good ones just hanging around, unheralded. Its not as cheap as cab, but hey, nobody buys it.

    Sorry can't help with your real question though.

    I'd love to try your Brown Brothers muscat. But check out the Italians and you may find an unpronounceable surprise. As well as unspellable, like "unpronounceable." Or try the Picota.

    Jim, where's the spell checker? Unprounouceable? Help!

    2 Replies
    1. re: bill pisarra

      Thanks, Bill.
      Y'know, I'm not even positive that it was a muscat -- I'm not very wine-savvy. But I liked your idea. Someone else (not on this site) suggested we try Prosecco, which I've never had before. Anyway, if I do find the Brown Bros., I'll post the name and the store here, so others can give it a shot, too.
      - - - Dena

      1. re: Dena

        To follow up on a previously-mentioned wine, I would HIGHLY recommend a good Moscato d'Asti for just about any occasion that calls for a lightly sweet, fizzy, just plain HAPPY wine. In particular, I can personally vouch for the Moscato by the producer Rivetti, called La Spinetta. It's usually a bit more expensive than some of the other moscatos out there (about $14-16), but believe me, as soon as you sniff and gulp some down, you'll know where the money went! Bonny Doon also makes a pretty fair approximation of an Italian moscato -- don't recall its name at the moment, tho. Electra is a fair choice as well -- it's not as heavy and alcoholic as Essencia (or the prototypical French-style fortified muscat wine, Muscat Beaumes-de-Venise). Don't have too much experience with the Aussie "stickies," but I thought that they generally tended towards the thick, toffee/caramel-ish side of the dessert wine spectrum....

        To also make another plug, I would recommend giving German wines a try if you haven't already. The daunting label nomenclature is painful, no way around it (and probably one of the main reasons that German wines have never gained much of a foothold here), but if you try a good kabinett or spatlese-level riesling from reliable producers like J.J. Prum, Donnhoff, Neckerauer, Lingenfelder, or Willi Schaefer, you might be surprised. Very food-friendly, with the acidity to counter the sweetness. And then, if you're ready, you can move onto the auslese, beerenauslese, eiswein, and the (mouthful, both figuratively and literally) trockenbeerenauslese wines. Little else in this world can match them....sigh.

    2. Ive had this wine (years ago, during the first big aussie wine push) and it is indeed enjoyable. Cant remember whether it was called a muscat - it could have had some semillion in it too. have you checked such stores as crossroads or grand in astoria? Even if they don't have this particular muscat, they surely can offer something of similar sweetness and weight. Some of the So. Italian muscats (Lipari, etc) perhaps. There is also an orange-colored muscat wine called essencia or even the cheapo Samos muscat from greece could be fine. Others might disagree, but I think prosecco might be too light to serve with most desserts.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        Thanks, Jen. I haven't tried anybody outside Manhattan, since I'm one of those who figures that, if you can't get it Manhattan, you'll just have to live without it. However, I did appreciate the reminder that you gave me about Essensia. I tasted it once and wrote down the name, then completely forgot all about it. It's one of three dessert wines from Andrew Cady (Madera, CA) and is, indeed, from orange muscat grapes. The other two are Electra (also orange) and Elysium (black muscat). I can't remember which of the three I liked best, but I might just buy them all and have a taste-testing with my guests, then post the results.

        1. re: Dena

          You may want to give your guests a chance to try the Electra as an aperitif, it's lower in alcohol and less sweet than the other two. It would also be nice with proscuitto with melon.

          1. re: Dena

            Anyone interested in trying to find Essencia et al. should know that the winery's name is spelled Quady...pronounced Cady.