Pairing wine with desserts

How to match wine with dessert

Ahhhh dessert, one of our most savoured meals, and one of the most important wine matching meals to plan if you are having a dinner party. It’s time to put away those heavy reds and bring in the delicate fruity wines to complement your sweet dessert dishes. Read on for how to match your wine and dessert meals!

Pairing wine with Chocolate Based Desserts

What would desert be without chocolate! Sweet deep chocolate calls for a sweet fortified wine. The refined grape juice flavours of Port can be a great match, and Merlot is also a seamless partner for chocolate, with its round tannins and notes of cocoa and mocha.

If you have a rich, dark chocolate, seek out a big red such as a Zinfandel. It harbours strong chocolate hints that will compliment the dessert perfectly.

Some tips when pairing.

  • The chocolate dessert shouldn’t be sweeter than the wine
  • Darker chocolate contains a higher percentage of cacao, and therefore less sugar. This makes it much better with a red wine than white
  • Darker desert = Darker wine

Pairing wine with apple based desserts

Apples are sweet, and dessert wines are sweet, so naturally they go very well together. They pair best if the apple dish has tartness left in it as a counterpoint to the wine. When talking dessert wines you can’t go past Port. The hints of caramel, vanilla and raisins will complement the apple deliciously. Muscat, with its aromatic hint of nutmeg, yellow raisins and honey is also a fantastic match.

Pairing wine with berry based desserts

A berry-flavoured dessert deserves a berry-flavoured wine! A Cabernet Franc and a dark berry driven Shiraz are a match in heaven for a berry dessert. If the berry dish is lighter and fruitier, head straight for a White Zinfandel.

Pairing wine with citrus Based Desserts

For citrus-based desserts such as Lemon cream pie or Orange crème caramel, go straight for a late harvest Riesling that will highlight the citrus notes of the dish.

Pairing wine with custard Based Desserts

A wide array of desserts are based on custard. These include Crème Brule, ice cream, mousse, pastry cream and bread and butter pudding (to name a few). When matching wine with cream and custard based desserts, any fruit, berry, nutty or caramel-flavoured dessert wines will complement these types of dishes. Suggestions include Muscat, Port, Sherry or PX Sherry.