Sweet highly flavoured wines are sold for drinking with deserts at the end of a meal. Some desert wines can be almost like golden syrup - thick and very sweet, white others are delicately fragranced affairs.
Muscat is the quintessential desert wine grape. The grapes are left long on the vine to ensure maximum sweetness. In some regions this is enhanced by allowing a particular type of fungus to grow on the grapes. This 'noble rot' as it is known is particularly prevalent in french sauternes wines.
German Eiswein Spätauslese (lit. late harvested grapes that are picked after the first frost) is also particularly sought after.The reason for this is that the water in the grapes freezes, leaving the sugars to become more concentrated and the wine to get sweeter. Typically auslese grapes have only 10 to 20% of the water content of standard grapes so the flavours are more concentrated..
Inniskillin is a Canadian brand of ice wine from vineyards close to Niagara Falls. Their ice wine has a distinctively smooth mouth appeal and a sweet heady aroma. Definitely one of my personal favourite desert wines.
Desert wines are higher in alcohol that standard wines and are usually sold in half bottles.