Duff Goldman, aka the Ace of Cakes, just launched a wine--a dessert wine, of course. Teaming up with Club W, Goldman has coined the wine Steel Kitten, and designed the bottle’s logo himself, too. We (admittedly) have a bit to learn when it comes to dessert wine, and we exactly who to talk to. Read for more on Steel Kitten from Duff, as well as the perfect recipe pairing!
text by Shani Silver photos courtesy by Club W
What made you decide to create a wine?
I wanted to see a wine that wasn’t a typical syrupy dessert wine but also wasn’t the usual pairing of Cab and chocolate. I wanted a wine that was drinkable on its own or suitably paired with other, more delicate flavors that could be sweet or savory. I think Steel Kitten is my new favorite wine to have with gooey, rich cheese and it goes really well with Mediterranean pastries as well as the spicier cuisine of North Africa. Desserts in general are becoming less about the sugar and more about the flavor. There is a smaller distinction between when dinner ends and dessert begins and I think we needed a wine to reflect that shift. Steel Kitten is a sweeter wine that makes the transition from savory to sweet more of a continuum as opposed to a point on a line.
What dessert/drink pairing mistake do people make too often? (And what should they do instead?)
Pastries are about flavor and texture, not sugar. I think as chefs, sometimes we try to get too clever and pair either super sweet wines with dessert with more regard toward sweetness and not the flavor of either the wine or the dish. I think another mistake is pairing a stronger drink like a whiskey or scotch with dessert. To enjoy those flavors, you have to switch your palate and your brain to a different setting, like putting on sunglasses. When that happens, you can tend to miss more subtle flavors because you are looking for flavors within the context of a strong liquor, not a delicate pastry. Our mouths are incredibly sensitive instruments, and as such can’t be subject to switching gears like a big rig in order to taste different flavors. It’s best to choose a dessert/drink combination that is complimentary in flavor as well as volume. I dare anyone to try and find me a better drink to have with chocolate chip cookies than cold, whole milk.
What are some ideal dessert flavors to pair with Steel Kitten?
Steel Kitten is a stronger, sweeter wine that goes with a surprising variety of flavors. What I have really found is that Steel Kitten goes best with desserts that have dynamics in texture. Desserts that are made with a puff pastry or phyllo dough and have crunchy and creamy elements are highlighted by the quickening of the tongue that Steel Kitten provides. It is also great with ice cream dishes that present a challenge in that coldness can make our mouths more aware of sugar and less of flavor. Steel Kitten has a knack for cutting through the cold, rich creaminess of an ice cream and bringing any buried flavor back up to the spotlight.
What's the best reaction you've had to Steel Kitten so far?
I honestly have to say mine. When I first tasted Steel Kitten, I was stoked to find that there was a rich jamminess to it that I wasn’t expecting. The sweetness is there, for sure, but it doesn’t dominate. It’s profile reminds me of a well-crafted dessert in that it has its base in the flavor of the fruit, and the sugar is there to support it.
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