It is time for our second installment on Tasting Pour’s series “Pairing Wine and Food.” If you missed the first article, click here.
Sweet foods and sweet wines can be particularly troublesome. Since we drink less dessert wine, we tend to have less experience with the flavors and relative sweetness of different styles. If a separate wine is not planned for the dessert course, the main course wine may continue to be consumed with less than satisfactory result.
Dry wines just are not meant to go with dessert. The sweetness in the dessert makes wine taste less sweet, therefore the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert. Having an even sweeter dessert does not balance the equation. We do not know why. It is science and it is true. This can be a dilemma for the
dessert connoisseur who likes a layer cake stacked high with sugary buttercream frosting. To find a sweeter wine may be expensive (quality dessert wines are often pricey) or may result in a sugar induced coma. US
There are some solutions . . .
Pair sweet wines with desserts that are naturally less sweet such as stone fruits and berries, shortbread, pound cake, and gingerbread. Late Harvest Rieslings, Muscats, and sweet sparkling wines are appropriate pairings.
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Pedro Ximenez pairing.
Consider really sweet wines such as Pedro Ximenez or sweeter styles of Tokay for very rich desserts.
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Chambord dessert pairing.
Think outside the box and opt for a liqueur. Most are sweet enough to pair with your sweetest desserts, vary in price, and keep a long time once opened.
Pair sweet wines with savory foods. Classic and delightful pairings include Port and blue cheese or Sauterne and foie gras.
If sugar plus even more sugar is just too much, coffee or tea is a viable alternative.
People really don’t like the rules of pairing wine with sweet foods. They see it as a barrier to eat and drink what they want. Remember, we at Tasting Pour firmly believe you should drink what you like. Folks seem most upset because they really enjoy red wine (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.) with chocolate. We would wager that the reason people like this combination is because the chocolate in question is probably dark. This means there is a certain degree of bitterness depending on the percentage of cacao. We also bet the red wine is a new world style – very fruity, high in alcohol, low in tannin, with a little bit of sweetness. So go ahead and enjoy your dark chocolate truffle and glass of new world Merlot. We would just not recommend a milk chocolate candy bar with a glass of Nebbiolo or Chianti. Click here for another wine option for chocolate.
Sweet foods do not occur only in the dessert course. Keep in mind that sugar in food doesn’t just mask the sugar in wine. It also makes the tannins and acid in wines more pronounced and causes the wine to seem thinner. A sweet bbq sauce will make a very dry wine taste thin, astringent and bitter. Consider a young fruity new world wine like Australian Shiraz or Zinfandel
Look for upcoming Tasting Pour articles to learn more about the different styles and flavors of dessert wines.