The Dessert Wine That Won’t Push Things Over the Top After a Big Meal

My husband always says that dessert is not about being hungry. This is true. Because sometimes it’s about being thirsty. And if you’re thirsty for something after a big holiday meal, I would like to suggest a glass of Banyuls.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Banyuls before this past February. I knew it was a seaside region in the south of France, and I knew they were into Grenache. But I did not know these Grenaches were extremely high in alcohol until it was too late. Like, “I unwittingly drank four glasses of 16% alcohol Grenache, almost peed my pants in a rental car, ran into a gas station with my jeans around my knees, and was hung over by 7 p.m.” too late. But while Banyuls Grenache isn’t great for glugging, it makes a dessert wine that is so delicious, you’ll have to stop yourself from doing just that.

Banyuls is a fortified wine, meaning they halt fermentation and preserve sugar by adding alcohol. It’s definitely sweet, but as someone who notoriously would choose pickles over pie any night of the week, Banyuls is not thaaat sweet. I know bitter milk chocolate isn’t a thing, but that’s what it tastes like, with hints of strawberry, the smoothness of a Stan Getz album, and the warmth of that perfect cup of hot cocoa from The Santa Clause. It has great acidity, and is lighter in body, texture, and alcohol than many other dessert wines. You can drink it alone, or if you want to get really indulgent, pair it with desserts rich in chocolate or ripe berries. Unlike Port or other bolder fortified wines, Banyuls is something you can actually drink, enjoy, and stay awake; rather than sip, slowly melt into the couch, and pass out between throw pillows.


Bobbi Lin

Banyuls would not be a bad idea with a slice of this cranberry lime pie.

And that’s what you want after a big holiday meal. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to pass out in front of the TV, but dessert is as ritualistic as the main course. It is the last hurrah of the evening, one more chance tell stories, make good-hearted jokes at the expense of beloved guests, or even get a little emotional ‘cause it’s the damn holidays. Banyuls allows you to drink and be merry—not just drink and be that uncle who snores through a football game.

Granted you don’t glug it. Seriously. Don’t. The only thing worse than peeing your pants in a rental car in France would be peeing your pants on your way home from a holiday party fifteen minutes from your house.

The Banyuls Marissa is drinking this holiday season is Domaine Piétri-Géraud Cuvée Méditerranée. $31, available from Lou Wine Shop in LA.

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