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Late-summer fruit, late-harvest wine ... how can you miss?

Late-summer fruit, late-harvest wine . . . how can you miss?

Pairing the fruits of late summer with a sweet, late-harvest wine brings out the best in both. The presentation may be simple and direct: fruit to eat and wine to sip along with it. But when you marry these elements by lightly poaching the fruit in the wine, the result is an elegant, cool dessert.

Here we use late-harvest varietal white wines--Johannisberg Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. You can also use the fruity, sweet white wines made from muscat grapes such as Muscato Canelli.

Why are these wines so sweet? Muscat is traditionally made in a sweet style. Lateharvest varietals are, as the name implies, made from grapes picked extra ripe and high in sugar. They may be affected by Botrytis cinerea, the noble mold that dries up the grape, concentrating flavor. To identify these wines, look for those labeled "late harvest' or for a sugar content of 4 to 10 percent (wines with high sugar percentage are more expensive).

You can choose from an entire palette of fruits to poach in this wine syrup: pears, plums, grapes, peaches, nectarines, figs, and raspberries. To preserve their individual color and flavor, poach each kind of fruit separately in the syrup. Fruits can then be served separately or together.

A full recipe of the wine syrup is sufficient to poach three kinds of fruit, enough to serve 10 to 12. You can also poach one kind of fruit to serve 5 or 6; the unused portion of the wine syrup will keep in the refrigerator to be used for poaching later.

Fruits with Late-harvest Wine

1 quart water

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice Strip of lemon peel (yellow part only) pared from 1 large lemon

1 bottle (4/5 qt., 750 ml.) late-harvest white wine (suggestions preceding), minimum residual sugar 4 percent

Fruit; choose 3 from the following list

In a 4- to 5-quart pan, combine the water, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Bring to a boil over high heat; boil rapidly, uncovered, until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the wine; you should have 6 cups. Use syrup, or cover tightly and refrigerate as long as 2 weeks.

To poach the fruit, place 2 cups of the wine syrup in a 2-to 3-quart pan. Bring to a boil; cook fruit as directed (following).

With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer fruit to a 2-quart glass serving dish or other noncorrodible container. Cool syrup to lukewarm; pour over fruit. Cover and chill until cold, about 4 hours or as long as 3 days.

To serve, spoon one piece of each kind of poached fruit into individual bowls. Ladle some of the syrup from each fruit into each bowl. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Fruit choices

Pears. Peel 10 to 12 small (2 to 2 1/2 lbs.) firm ripe Bartlett pears. Coat the fruit with 2 tablespoons lemon juice to prevent browning. Add half the fruit at a time to boiling wine syrup (preceding). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pears are tender when pierced, 10 to 12 minutes. Poach remaining pears in the same manner.

Plums. Rinse 10 to 12 small (about 1 1/2 lb.) firm-ripe Santa Rosa or other plums. Prick skins with a fork. Add to boiling wine syrup (preceding). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, turning fruit once, until tender when pierced, 7 to 10 minutes.

Grapes. Cut apart 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds seedless grapes into clusters with 10 to 12 grapes each. Rinse fruit. Add to boiling wine syrup (preceding). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until grapes soften slightly, about 3 minutes.

Peaches or nectarines. Peel 5 or 6 medium-size (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs.) firm-ripe freestone peaches; cut in halves. Or rinse 5 or 6 medium-size (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs.) nectarines; cut in halves. Coat all sides of the peaches and the cut sides of nectarines with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice to prevent browning.

Add fruit to boiling wine syrup (preceding). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender when pierced, 5 to 7 minutes.

Figs. Rinse 10 to 12 small (1 to 1 1/4 lbs.) firm-ripe white or black figs. Add figs to boiling wine syrup (preceding). Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until figs soften slightly (press to test), 3 to 5 minutes.

Raspberries. Rinse 3 cups (1 to 1 1/4 lbs.) raspberries; drain. Place berries in a 1 1/2-to 2-quart bowl. Pour boiling wine syrup (preceding) over the berries.

Photo: Shimmering fruits cooked in wine syrups make a refreshing summer dessert

Photo: 1. Pour late-harvest wine into concentrated sugar-lemon syrup

Photo: 2. Poach fruits in wine syrup until barely tender; chill fruits in syrup

Photo: 3. Serve portions of each fruit variety with their syrups in small bowls
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Aug 1, 1984
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