Even though some desserts better lend themselves to coffee or even strong spirits, there are wines that will work for almost any dessert. Let’s explore…
Dessert: Apple Pie
Wine Pairing: Ice Wine
Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The water inside the grapes freezes, allowing a more concentrated juice to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a very sweet wine. Ice wine has a characteristic refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity, which pairs beautifully with apple pies and tarts.
Dessert: Chocolate Cake
Wine Pairing: Vintage Port
Port is a fortified wine produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region of Portugal. The wine is fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente in order to stop the fermentation, leaving both a residual sugar and higher alcohol.
Wine Pairing: Tokaji
A Tokaji’s sweetness is measured in puttonyos, the Hungarian word for a basket used in Tokaji’s production; the scale runs from three to six. Tokajis go particularly well with anything caramelized, such as a tarte Tatin, or desserts with dates, nuts or figs.
Dessert: Blackberry Pie
Wine Pairing: Brachetto d’ Acqui
Effervescent and not too sweet, with a wild berry flavor and fizzy tingle, this sparkling red from the Piedmont region of Italy pairs perfectly with any berry dessert, from a raspberry tart to a blackberry crumble to a bowl of strawberries topped with cream.
Dessert: Panna Cotta
Wine Pairing: Muscat
Made from a Mediterranean grapes featuring citrus, rose, and peach notes. Fortified and aged examples (particularly those that have been barrel aged), tend to be very dark in color due to oxidation with aroma notes of coffee, fruit cake, raisins and toffee. Ideal with custards and cream pies.
Dessert: Pumpkin Pie
Wine Pairing: Oloroso Sherry
Oloroso (“scented” in Spanish) is a variety of fortified wine made in Jerez and Montilla-Moriles, Spain, and produced by oxidative aging. It is normally darker than Amontillado sherry and has a dark and nutty quality that pairs well with spiced pumpkin pies.
Dessert: Shortbread Cookies
Wine Pairing: Demi-Sec Champagne
The aging process in the traditional methode champenoise ensures a biscuity, bready flavor that will go perfectly with shortbread. Just make sure to select a sparkler that’s either demi-sec (sweet) or doux (very sweet).
Dessert: Mince Pie
Wine Pairing: Madeira or Sauternes
Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands, with flavors of caramel, toffee, marmalade, and raisins. Sauternes, on the other hand, is a French sweet wine from Bordeaux made from grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in sweet but acidic wines with flavors of apricots, honey, peaches, and nuts.
Dessert: Cheese Board
Wine Pairing: Sumner Vineyards Pinot Gris
Like most wines, Pinot Gris pairs well with cheese, especially lighter cheeses like mozzarella, gouda, and brie. Choose lighter crackers, such a water cracker, to keep from overpowering the wine’s spicy, smoky flavors.