You can find sweet wines made from muscat grapes right across the bottom of France, but the most famous example is the Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from the southern Rhône. Unlike the rich, strong, dark brown barrel-aged fortified wines made from muscat in Australia, the French version is pale in colour, fresh and bright in flavour, and drunk young. The sugar-rich juice of late-harvested muscat grapes is fermented slowly at low temperatures (to retain the muscatty perfume) until half the sugar has converted to alcohol. Neutral grape spirit is added to stop fermentation (the alcohol kills off the yeast cells) and bring the wine up to around 20 per cent alcohol. The result is strength from the spirit combined with sweet delicacy from the aroma and flavour of the grapes which makes it the perfect match for this fruity dessert to enjoy on a summer's day.
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