Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, a holiday, or just a dinner with your spouse, don’t miss out on the best dessert wines to go with the treats. But how do you choose the right one?
Usually we are very careful to find the right harmony between the different dishes of our meals and the wine. But when it comes to the last dish, dessert, most of us are guilty of trying less and limiting our choices to dry sparkling wine.
What a terrible choice, I must say. And honestly, I hated associating my desserts with wine because the cake or the drink didn’t do justice to the other. Coffee seemed like the best solution until I spoke with a sommelier who explained all the secrets of choosing the best dessert wine for the last dish.
Dry sparkling wines are often called dessert wines. We are all used to drinking a glass of champagne at the end of a meal. But if the meal doesn’t turn into a salty one, forget the coverage. There are many wines that go perfectly with your sweets.
Food and wine are not easy, and it’s even harder for desserts. Indeed, food and wine are a combination of technical expertise and creativity. When choosing a wine, it is important to consider not only the characteristics of the dish and the characteristics of the wine, but also the classic recommendations for accompaniment.
Food and wine pairing is not just about finding the right wine to go with the dish. When choosing a wine, one should strive to balance these two elements and create new taste experiences.
There are two main ways to associate food and wine, either through contrast or analogy. It’s easier to make a pair by analogy. In other words, the good old rule that sweet wine should be paired with sweet wine is the golden rule to follow when choosing a dessert wine.
The comparison between desserts and wine, on the other hand, requires a comprehensive understanding of both the dessert and the wine. You should have a clear idea of how the components of the wine change or alter the flavor of the dish. Unless you’re an experienced sommelier or connoisseur, it’s unlikely you’ll have this knowledge, and the wisest thing to do is stick to the golden rule.
The Italian Federation of Hoteliers, Sommeliers and Restaurateurs (FISAR) has established two methods for matching wine and food: one for savory dishes and one for sweet dishes. The presence of sugar in a dish changes the perception and organoleptic characteristics of the wine, so this distinction is important.
Desserts can be classified based on the type of dough used to make them, the way they are prepared and the type of filling. In fact, you can choose between leavened or unleavened, baked or roasted, filled with creams, dried or candied fruits, spices and more. There are also many fresh desserts like fruit salad or ice cream.
To get a good deal, it is important to evaluate the characteristics of the sweets you plan to serve and choose the wine accordingly. Again, the evaluation parameters were defined in FISAR and each element was assigned a numerical value. Try to pair desserts with wines of similar value (1 to 10) to win.
The characteristics of the confectionery to which the value is attributed:
- Aromatic and spicy sensations;
- Feelings of grease and oil ;
- It’s a sweet feeling;
When choosing the right dessert wine, the cooking time and texture of the dessert should also be considered.
The characteristics of the wine to which the value is attributed :
- Intensity and endurance ;
- Brown and hissing;
- Age and complexity;
- Alcohol concentration;
- Body and softness.
Remember the golden rule? Sweets go well with sweet wines. But not all sweet wines are the same. There is a big difference between a still sweet wine and a sparkling sweet wine. And when do you serve grape wine? Or the starchy version. What are flavored wines and when should they be served? If you are a sommelier and want to choose the best dessert wines, you need to know the answer to all these questions.
Sweet dessert wines
Not all sweet wines go well with desserts, but there are a few that can be paired with your sweets. Two of them are worth mentioning: Muscat and Malvasia. These two grapes are known for their sweetness and accompany many desserts.
Since Muscat and Malvoisie wines are both produced as dry wines, care must be taken to select the right type of wine. Moscato d’Asti is an excellent example of a still-sweet dessert wine, known worldwide for its rich flavor and heady aroma.
Muscatel and Malvoisie wines are also produced as sparkling wines, fortified wines and grape wines.
Sweet dessert wine, aerated
While it’s classic to end a meal and accompany dessert with sparkling wine, champagne and prosecco are rarely the right choice. However, there are many sweet and sparkling dessert wines. One of the best known is the Asti Spumante, a sweet wine made from Muscat grapes.
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, an Italian wine produced from raisins in a special process involving three fermentations, is also a remarkable sparkling dessert wine.
Gran Reserva Cava and Brachetto d’Acqui are two other delicious sparkling dessert wines to consider for the final dish.
Raisins are sometimes called vin de paille or passito, an Italian word that describes the production technique. All raisins are generally characterized by a sweet taste due to the production process. The grapes are dried before fermentation to remove the water. In this way, the sugars and aromas in each grape are concentrated, giving the wine a distinctive taste and strong flavors.
There are several ways to dry the grapes before making wine. Reputable wineries usually dry them directly on the vine, which delays the harvest by about a month compared to the natural ripening of the grapes. The fruits are dried in the sun, which gives them their sweetness and flavor.
In addition, the grapes can be dried after harvest with an aeration system that simulates the natural process. Because the grapes are no longer on the vine, the results are not as good and the resulting raisin wine is less tasty.
Another drying method used in many wineries is harvesting the grapes and drying them in the sun for about a month. The grapes are hung by wires or stored on fences until dry, and this method is often used in reputable wineries.
With their rich bouquet and sweet taste, raisins go well with desserts. The Côtes du Jura is a fine example of French grape wine produced from a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pulsar grapes. Spain is famous for its Ligeruelo wine, which also goes with many desserts.
But Italy is best known for its raisins. Probably the most popular is Vin Santo, produced in Tuscany; other delicious raisins are Moscato Passito di Pantelleria and Caluso Passito.
Fortified dessert wines
Fortified wines are made by the classical method of fermentation, but at a certain stage of production winemakers add a certain amount of alcohol, either ethyl alcohol or wine distillates, to enrich the wine.
Depending on the type of fortified wine produced, alcohol may be added during or at the end of fermentation. In the first case, a high concentration of alcohol inactivates the action of the yeasts and stops the fermentation process almost immediately. The residual sugar remaining in the wine as a result of the interrupted fermentation contributes to the sweetness of the wine.
Madeira and Port are probably the best known fortified wines. Marsala is another notable wine to pair with your treats. Note, however, that Marsala is made by adding brandy at the end of fermentation, so Marsala is produced both as a dry wine and as a sweet wine. Choose Marsala Dolce for a successful combination of wine and dessert. Sherry is another fortified wine similar to sherry.
To be considered enriched, a wine must have an alcoholic strength of between 15 and 22%.
Flavoured dessert wines
Flavoured wines are obtained by blending one or more wines with liqueurs, herbs, juices and/or spices. The proportion of wine in the total volume of the drink must be at least 75%, but there are no rules on the aromas or spices that must be used to flavour the wine.
In most cases, aromatised wines are made from a blend of sparkling and still wines, enriched with brandy or grappa and sweetened with grape must, sugar, fructose, glucose syrup or honey. Sometimes natural dyes are used to enhance the color of the drink. Where alcohol is added, aromatised wines should have an alcoholic strength comparable to that of fortified wines.
The famous flavored wine is vermouth, which is made in both dry and sweet varieties. Sweet vermouths go well with desserts, while dry varieties are ideal for creating delicious wine cocktails.
Ignorance or, in our case, the bliss theory. But which wine goes with the dessert? On the advice of a sommelier, here’s a list of sweets and their best pairings with wine.
Boiled cardboard sweets
Sourdough candies are often served as dessert and are popular all over the world. Cookies, brioches, savarinas, fried beignets and all other sourdough desserts can be listed in this category. The best wines to accompany these treats are sweet sparkling wines with low alcohol content, such as Riesling sparkling wine.
Fried beignets, pancakes, churros and fried pastries go well with sweet white wines. You should choose a quiet wine with a very aromatic aroma and a rich, sweet taste, such as B. Ramandolo or Gewürztraminer.
Dried candies are often made of puff pastry or cookies and filled with candied fruit or dried fruit such as nuts and almonds. Cookies and shortbread also fall under this category. Dry candies go well with fortified or flavored wines. Moscato d’Asti Passito, Vin Santo, Port, Marsala or Vermouth are all good choices for this type of dessert.
Many of the above desserts are filling, in which case a reminder of the rules may not apply. In this case, the wine should be combined with the filling and not with the dough. Here’s how:
- Jams or creamy fillings: go well with moderately sweet wines such as Muskateller, Müller-Thurgau or Riesling.
- Fresh fruit: Cakes and cookies can often be filled with fresh fruit. Sweet white wines with intense aromas, such as. B. white raisins are the best choice in this case. Make sure the wine has a fruity and full aroma.
- Red fruit toppings: Raspberries, strawberries, cranberries and other red fruits go well with sweet and very aromatic red wines like Brachetto d’Acqui.
- White fruit spots: Apples, pears, bananas and other white fruits should be accompanied by lightly sparkling sweet white wines like Rappu di Rogliano. The effervescence and flavor of these wines contrast very well with the filling.
Almond cookies, macaroons, marzipan and other almond flour-based sweets blend well with the spicy body and rich flavors of white wine with raisins. You should choose a raisin wine with a full body and intense structure, such as Albana di Romagna.
Coleslaw and éclairs go well with aromatic red wines and fortified wines. If you want your dessert to stand out, pair your chocolate brownie with a bottle of Banyuls. If the dough is filled with, for example, vanilla cream or whipped cream, a very sweet and tasty wine. B. a semi-dry Marsala, which is definitely among your dessert choices.
Mignon pies are usually filled with fruit or cream, but whatever the filling, they go well with very sweet and tasty wines like Vin Santo.
All soufflés go well with fortified wines. Lemon, vanilla and candied fruit soufflés find their best friend in a fortified white wine like Marsala Oro or Marsala Ambra. The chocolate soufflé goes well with fortified red wines.
Pancakes and pancakes
Pancakes and pancakes are easy to make and everyone loves them. They can be filled with whipped cream or with sauces and syrups. Whatever you choose, the pastry’s distinctive taste goes well with sweet and not so sweet wines, such as Gewürztraminer d’Alsace.
Ice cream and sorbet
Sommeliers have been advising against ice and wine for decades. Cold desserts change the perception of wine, so their claim is well-founded. However, you can make a winning combination if you choose your wine wisely.
Sweet wines with nutmeg go well with vanilla or nutmeg ice cream. Grape wines enhance the taste of ice cream or pistachio, chocolate and strawberry sorbet. Tokaji’s wines and ice creams go perfectly with eggnog and almond ice cream.
Creams and custards
Desserts like crème caramel, crème brûlée or Bavarian cream go well with fresh white wines like Muscat de Rivesalt.
Choosing the best dessert wines for your final course is not an exact science, but it is important if you want to impress your guests. So don’t forget to keep the prosecco dry for special occasions when you enjoy your delicious chocolate cake. Instead, use the guide above and pair your treats with the best dessert wines that can enhance their flavor and end the meal successfully. After all, it’s better to stick to coffee than to serve candy with inappropriate wine. Enjoy your meal!
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