Wine Cellar Sorbet
Wine-Based Sorbets Are “Vintage Desserts”
NOTE: THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO A “TOP PICK OF THE WEEK.” PLEASE READ THE TOP PICK INSTEAD OF THIS VERSION: IT HAS MORE CURRENT INFORMATION, AS WELL.
CAPSULE REPORT: And now for something completely different—serious sorbets made of vintage wines. Sweetened but barely sweet, these are not sugary frozen desserts but sophisticated refreshments and palate cleansers. The most special of specialty foods, they’re just what the gourmet doctor ordered! The products currently are in limited distribution. We urge you to have your local stores call up the manufacturer and have it shipped in to your area posthaste!
Occasionally when we have elaborate dinners, we will make a sorbet or granita as a palate cleanser between fish and meat courses, using marc, grappa* or an eau de vie. As much as it’s a hit with guests, we say occasionally because this extra course takes time and focus from preparing the main meal.
*French marc (pronounced mar) and Italian grappa are essentially the same product; potent and a somewhat harsh variety of eau de vie distilled from the pomace (grape residue) left over from making brandy.
Thankfully, Wine Cellar Sorbets has come to our aid, launching the first-ever line of wine sorbets that will do perfectly as palate-cleansers. The sorbets are not simply wine-flavored, but are wines frozen into sorbets, with just the tiniest amount of sugar plus a stabilizer and pectin for consistency.
Carded For Sorbet
The container—lid and base—advise that one must be twenty-one years age to buy the sorbet, and the register scan advises the cashier to verify our age. We roll our eyes. How inebriated can any minor get eating sorbet, even though the pint is up to 5% alcohol by volume, as much as beer (wine is typically 10% to 14% alcohol, with fortified wines like Port higher)?
When we get home and taste the sorbets—woo hoo! It is like drinking frozen wine. Who knows what might happen to kids foolish enough to freeze their mouths numb by eating an entire pint to see if they get a buzz. We did eat the equivalent of a pint at each sitting. While we may have gotten a tad tired, it could have been from lack of sleep, or from an overload of eating all those carbs in the space of half an hour.
Like most sorbets, these are low in sugar and have no fat. Unlike most sorbets, they are not particularly sweet (see the note about the red wine sorbets below), but are serious gourmet products that make excellent palate cleansers between courses, as well as sophisticated desserts. We would serve them with cheese. They also can be used as frozen cocktails.
We found most of the flavors over a two-week period at our local Whole Foods Market. Since the store only gives shelf space to four flavors at a time, we’ll have to keep checking back to update this review. Plus, since we first reviewed this line, the company has revised its offering, discontinuing some of the original flavors and adding new ones. We haven’t tasted the new flavors yet, but here’s the current lineup along with our original tasting notes, and pointers to recipes on the company’s website:
Some caveats: These sorbets are fragile. If not well-handled by the retailer or in your own home, flavor components can migrate—e.g., sugary components can sink to the bottom of the pint, leaving the top less sweet. It doesn’t mean that the sorbet isn’t delicious—just that each bite might not be consistent. Still, we think the product line is spectacular: If it had national distribution, we would have named it a Top Pick Of The Week. (Hopefully, the online ordering mechanism will go live one of these days.)
Another thing to watch out for is that the first spoonful, especially of the reds, may taste exotic or unusual to many people, because one anticipates a sweet frozen dessert. The reds have sweetness, but are not “sweet.” After consuming the entire dish, however, everyone will be hooked. The whites are more of an easy transition.
The wine sorbets are versatile products that clamor to be served in a variety of ways. We wouldn’t even tamper with them, although one might be tempted to make concoctions with vodka, cognac, framboise, et al. The beauty of this product is that the manufacturer has done all the work, and all you need do is dish it out and take the compliments.
For starters, think of it as:
Do check out the recipes on the website.
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