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Life Sauternal

China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-18 11:14
The emphasis on food and wine-matching with Sauternes-it goes particularly well with aromatic and spicy dishes, with the sweetness acting as a great complement to spice, which can often overpower red wines. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Among the most commonly misplaced notions are the following: that it's only a dessert wine; that it can only be paired with foie gras, blue cheese and fruit desserts; that it's expensive; that it's wasteful, meaning not everyone wants to finish a bottle once opened; and that its sweetness has made it the preserve of women rather than the red-blooded male.

Edward Narby, Berry Brothers & Rudd's Hong Kong-based corporate account manager, has noticed a rising interest in Sauternes in China - "though not to the consumption levels of dry reds and whites," he says. He identifies several reasons for the change. "The emphasis on food and wine-matching with Sauternes - it goes particularly well with aromatic and spicy dishes, with the sweetness acting as a great complement to spice, which can often overpower red wines."

Baudry and her cohorts have also paired sweet Bordeaux with seafood and found them to be agreeable to the broader Asian palate. "We have paired sweet Bordeaux with oysters, then lobster and finally a smoked saffron fish," she says. "Very beautiful chords showed the guests the sweet wine's pairing abilities thanks to its aromatic complexity, with a variety of textures and tastes."

Narby also believes the region's dining culture matches well with the libation: "The tradition of Chinese dining, where lots of dishes are served at once, also works with sweet wine, as it is surprisingly versatile. There's also a psychological edge to Sauternes - gold is such a positive color, too."

But what about the commonly held belief that alpha males don't touch the sweet stuff? "The notion of Sauternes being a more female-friendly libation is completely unfounded," he says.

"In tastings, I see that everyone enjoys these wines now. Real men drink rose - they are drinking sweet Bordeaux, too."

It's also an elixir with staying power on the practical level. "A sweet white Bordeaux, once opened, thanks to the higher levels of alcohol and acidity, will easily keep in the fridge for up to 10 days ... if you can resist it!" says Narby. At the more remarkable end of the preservation scale, US wine critic Robert Parker tasted an 1811 Chateau d'Yquem in 1996 and awarded it a perfect 100 points. The house of Dior even combined with d'Yquem in 2006 to create an anti-aging cream that utilized sap from its vines.

Nicolas Sanfourche, who oversees 30 hectares of vines at Chateau Loupiac-Gaudiet, of which three hectares are dedicated to red wine and 27 to sweet white Loupiac, says both yes and no to Sauternes being considered a dessert wine. "It's a dessert wine because it replaces the dessert at the end of the meal," he says. "Never mix sweet wine and sugar, and if you really want to pair it with dessert, I prefer fresh fruits."

And on the point about the gender battle: "Soft drinks are sugared, too, but does that mean they are only for women as well?" he poses, noting that he sees more men in his cellar than women. Sanfourche also has two dancefloors in his cellar, where he invites 500 people and six DJs to while the weekend away. "The average age of the people is 25," he adds. As of this month, he's opened a space on the estate for Airbnb for those wanting a taste of the life more ambrosial.

So what are you waiting for? Sweet Bordeaux doesn't only taste sublime or match with all foods - it's an anytime, anywhere libation, "People say sweet Bordeaux wine is only for the end of the year, a celebration, but my favorite time to drink it is next to the pool in the summer," says Sanfourche. From here to eternity, go grab the sweeter life and aspire to iridescent immortality - a life Sauternal?

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