If you do not like desserts or most expressions of sweetness, PX is definitely not for you. But for anyone with an appreciation for a blast of sip-able sweetness, track down a few bottles of PX immediately. You will experience a wine that is pleasantly viscous, verging on syrupy with aromas and flavors of raisins (remember, those ripe grapes were raisin-ated in the sun), dates, figs, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, chocolate, black licorice, coffee and, yes, even molasses.
This wine style could match well with bread or rice puddings, vanilla and/or caramel ice cream; dried fruits and fruit pastries; flan and other custards, orange- or banana-based desserts, pecan pie and dark chocolate. But really, when a wine is this sweet, sticky and decadent, you could drink it on its own and just call that dessert. Or to counter the sweetness of PX, you could pair a glass with some salty nuts, or a few formidable hunks of Manchego or blue cheese.
Serving temperatures for PX range from about 57 degrees down to 50, and some producers suggest serving their wines even cooler. Remember that the cooler they are, the more their aromas and flavors can hide.
Don’t hem your PX in by pouring it into a tiny glass. Serve it in a proper wine glass.
PX lasts a long time in the bottle after it’s been opened because it has been fortified (and expect it to pack 15 percent alcohol or higher), which means you can keep enjoying it for at least the next two months, probably longer. Even two or three months’ shelf life will vastly extend your pleasure and help you get to know this wine style better over time. It will also spread out your cost and make a higher price tag seem more reasonable.
These wines are actually not that expensive for how decadent and relatively rare they are. Many are available in smaller bottles (375 or 500 milliliters), in case you want to just dip your toe into the PX waters. And when you store PX bottles, both before you’ve opened them and after you’ve re-corked them, make sure they are standing up — not lying down — to protect that cork from the potent elixir inside.
Below are notes from a recent tasting of Pedro Ximenez varietal wines. They are listed in ascending order, according to price, regardless of bottle size.
Valdespino El Candado Pedro Ximenez. Full of raisins, dates, brown sugar and licorice, this thick and viscous wine is a good introduction to the style. $14/375 milliliters
Bodegas Hidalgo Triana Pedro Ximenez. This one offers notes of coffee, cola, marzipan and honey, and is dense and creamy with 15 percent alcohol. $20/500 milliliters
Lustau PX San Emilio Pedro Ximenez. Orange peel, raisins, fig, hazelnuts, brown sugar and spice characterize this sultry PX from Jerez. $21/750 milliliters
Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla Pedro Ximenez. This one delivers herbs, fig, rhubarb, super-sweet brown sugar, and a long finish full of nuts and raisins. $26/750 milliliters
Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez. From the Montilla-Moriles region, this wine offers prune, vanilla, brown sugar, raisins, chocolate, nuts and 16 percent alcohol. $30/375 milliliters
Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez. This aptly named beauty is full of figs, raisins, pine, tobacco, coffee, smoke, chocolate and caramel. $30/750 milliliters
2013 Casa del Inca Pedro Ximenez. Tangerine, fig, caramel and a slight note of anise commingle in this dark amber PX from Montilla-Moriles. $60/750 milliliters
Bodegas Tradicion VOS 20 Years Pedro Ximenez. Prune, orange, citrus, spice, brown sugar and sassafras are present in this black-as-tar wine. $96/750 milliliters