Keri described my love for Grgich Hill’s Violetta during our trip to Napa in February. When you have a bottle of wine you are looking forward to, great food really can add to the experience.
Dessert wine is tricky though. Violetta is described as having ripe white peach and orange blossom honey flavors, and I can assure you–the honey flavor really comes through. If you pair a sweet wine with a sweet dessert, you can “over-sugar” your palate (not a technical term, I just made it up). What I mean by that is your tongue can get over-inundated with sweetness, preventing you from being able to make out the individual sweet flavors in your dessert and dessert wine.
One solution is to skip the typical dessert all together and pair it with a cheese. Rich, creamy cheeses tend to work best, and I’ve personally been on a Robiola kick lately. Robiola pairs well with honey which would make it a good natural pair with a honey-y wine.
But I’m not so sure in this case that a cheese is the best way to fully experience Violetta. Toasted nuts are another great option for dessert wine and I want to share the (unscientific) recipe that Keri and I had with one of our Violetta bottles.
Generously coat chopped pecans with butter in a pan. Spread out the pecans so they are not overlapping with each other. Generously sprinkle the pecans with a mixture of roughly 1 part sugar, 3 parts cinnamon, 2 parts chili powder. The idea is to have a subtle kick, but not a burning feeling when you eat them. (Feel free to increase the chili powder. I am a northerner, so I do not have a refined spice palate).
Cook at 350 degrees for roughly 15 minutes, or until the strong smell of pecans fills the room (it took about 12 and a half minutes when we did it).
Let them cool off to the side for a little bit. They will no longer look “wet” when ready. And enjoy!