There's one of them at every dinner. I mean the person who seems to be putting up with the meal just to get to dessert. Sure, during the aperitif hour they may be indistinguishable from other diners, mingling and nibbling tiny cones of tuna tartare with the abandon of an 8-year-old at Baskin-Robbins.
But by the time the evening moves into the sit-down phase, you can usually spot dessert fanatics by the look of world-weary resignation they show as the appetizers arrive. Asparagus quiche just doesn't do it when they've suspected that cheesecake is on the dessert list.
They suffer through the halibut in complete silence. You'd think an entre-met would perk them up, but as soon as they realize the palate-cleansing carrot sorbet is unsweetened, they become irritable. The main course can be sheer torture. If the dish requires any amount of attentive knife-and-fork work, you can usually see beads of sweat forming on the dessert addict's brow.
But as the waiter begins whisking the crumbs away, dessert fiends make a miraculous recovery. They crack jokes, do Ethel Merman impressions, and become loud and unruly - that is, until they bury their faces silently in the long-awaited chocolate soufflé or tarte Tatin. If you know one of these unfortunates, try turning them on to something even better than dessert: one of these three dessert wines.
DOLCE 1998 ($75)
In spite of its Italian-sounding name, Dolce is a California wine through and through. It's made at the cellars of Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, although Dolce is considered a separate but complementary brand. Both Dolce and Far Niente get their names from the old Italian phrase dolce far niente, which, translated into the lingo of the 21st century, basically means "kicking back and hanging out."