Although many people are more familiar with pinot groir and savignon blanc, a sweet wine such as sauternes can be a great alternative. Sauternes is a wine produced using Bordeaux grapes that have been affected by noble rot, and are surprisingly versatile when it comes to pairing. If you're looking to expand your palate, take a look below for some tips on serving and enjoying sauternes.
In the United States, sauternes is often seen as a wine to be paired exclusively with dessert, but this is rarely the case elsewhere; because of it is already viewed as a particularly sweet, sugary wine, the best pairings are with salty or spicy dishes. Seafood is a popular example, as are foie gras and many types of cheese. In other words, don't load up on the sweetness factor. Instead, use the wine to balance the salty flavors of your meal.
Like most wines, sauternes is not meant to be served too cold. You can refrigerate it and serve it chilled (after leaving it out for a few minutes, of course), but drink it too cold and you'll miss out on all the bold flavors, especially apricot and honey. Masking these distinguished flavors by chilling a bottle too much will likely leave you unimpressed.
Sauternes doesn't just boast big flavors; it's also fairly high in alcohol content as well. This isn't a wine that you buy a few cheap bottles of and guzzle down in the span of a few days. Instead, you'll want to savor the complex layers of taste that a sauternes has to offer, and do so by pouring just a couple of ounces in your glass at a time. (There are wine glasses made specifically for sauternes, but if you're lacking some in your kitchen, a glass for white wine will do). And if you do pair it with a spicy dish, you can rest assured that the counteracting sweetness of the wine will mean that you won't feel the need to drink too much.
Fortunately, you can enjoy sauternes whether it is young or old. Unlike many types of red wines that get better as they age, there exists no such stereotype with sauternes. Of course, that's not to say an aged bottle isn't a great investment, but you don't have to worry about looking elsewhere if you find a great deal on a younger bottle.