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Best Dessert Wine Pairings

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Dessert wines are often over-looked yet can truly enhance your epicurean experience.  A few simple guidelines should make it a fun exercise! The golden rule for pairing wine with with desserts:  The wine should be sweeter than the dessert.    Then, match the flavor intensity of the dessert with the flavor intensity of the wine.

Firstly, back to the golden rule for pairing wine with desserts – the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. Secondly, match the flavor profile of the dessert with the flavor profile of the wine. Here are more specific tips:

  • PX (Pedro Ximénez) – this is a luscious Spanish dessert sherry wine made from dried grapes.  This wine is so sweet with strong flavors of raisins and molasses, it can simply be poured over vanilla ice cream.  Pair with bread pudding, white or dark chocolate desserts, and orange flavored desserts.
  • Sauternes – Sauternes are characterized by a balance of sweetness with the zest of some acidity. Common flavor notes include apricots, honey, peaches but slightly nutty.  Try a Sauterne with Creme Brûlée, apple tart tatin, peach pie, or an English Trifle.
  • Ice Wine – Or, Icewine, are refreshingly sweet with high acidity.  They typically have a medium to full body with a long lingering finish. The nose is usually reminiscent of pear, peach,  dried apricot, citrus,honey,  figs, caramel, and green apple. Riesling style Ice Wines, which are quite common, can be paired with key lime pie, lemon tarts, fruit tarts,  or fruit-based creme brûlée.  Or, drink all by itself.
  • Tawny Port – A Tawny Port with it slightly sweet yet nutty, caramel flavors pairs well with fruit cakes, mince pies, and eggy pastries including custards and flans.
  • Ruby Port – Try a Ruby Port, which has fruity notes and easy tannins pairs well  with a decadent but not too sweet chocolate dessert.  It goes with a chocolate cake with a raspberry sauce, or a dark chocolate fondue,  or a simple chocolate brownie.
  • Late Harvest Zinfandel – Find dried cherry and chocolate notes in Late Harvest Zinfandels.  These dessert wines go well with of course chocolate and chocolate desserts.  Also try it with cheesecakes, cherry pies, and carrot cakes.

One last rule of thumb – leave room for dessert!!!

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