Trockenbeerenauslese, from the German trocken (dry), beeren (grapes or berries), and auslese (selected), is wine from grapes that have been shrivelled up by the so-called “noble rot” (aka the botrytis fungus) responsible for the best dessert wines worldwide, like French Sauternes. Tonight we had a bottle of 1995 Johanneshof Reinisch Chardonnay from Thermenregion, Austria.

I got this wine for my birthday in 1999 and we finally decided to open it after dinner tonight. It’s honey-colored, and almost as thick, and as soon as we poured the glasses we could smell the caramel, treacle, burnt sugar, mixed in with dried fruit and unexpected interlopers like old, soft cheese (these are good, if that’s not obvious). Finally getting the courage to actually drink the stuff after about five minutes of swirling it around in our glasses, there was even more. It’s as thick as honey, an appropriate consistency for anointing the next monarch, with more and more of the tart dried-apricot fruit (actually, more of the apricot “fruit leather” on which I was happily raised) up front, thick and chewey, better than cough syrup laced with your favorite psychoactive substance, lingering in your mouth with the sugary sweetness and a hint of bitterness in the background reminding you this is for adults.