The sweet, intensely grapey flavours of muscadel are a natural partner for the sweet perfume of peaches and nectarines.
Quite rich and heavily sweet, lightened by its floral perfume but with a reasonable acidic backbone to give it sprightliness, muscadel is still fairly subtle as far as dessert wines go. Classed as a fortified wine, it’s made by adding a spirit, generally brandy, to concentrated grape juice that hasn’t had the benefit of much fermentation, and keeps its flavours fresh and close to the taste of the grapes of origin.
In South Africa we excel at its manufacture. Estates in the semi-arid regions of the Klein Karoo – the Hex River Valley or Robertson – and in the far Northern Cape on the banks of the Orange River, make some delicious muscadel “soetes”.
Adding to its beauty is its almost always reasonable price tag. It’s versatile too. Muscadel can be drunk in summer (when it’s best to serve it ice cold) or winter (you can get away with serving it slightly warmer).
Jug of iced muscadel with slices of peach and nectarine
- ice cubes, to serve
- 2 ripe peaches, pips removed
- and sliced
- 2 nectarines, pips removed
- and thinly sliced
- 500ml rosé wine, well chilled
- 250ml red muscadel, well chilled
Toss a handful of ice cubes into a jug, then wedge the peach and nectarine slices in-between. Top up with the rosé wine and red muscadel, and stir briefly to blend. Serve immediately with ice.
When peaches and nectarines are out of season, substitute with sliced tinned peaches.