Tim Hong: Hi! I am Tim Hong, Certified Sommelier with Total Wine & More. Here to talk about pairing wine with desserts.
A perfect dessert pairing can really complete a meal and leave a lasting impression on you or your guests. When pairing wine with dessert follow these guidelines.
Pair acidity with acidity. If the dessert has fruit, the acid in the wine will complement the natural acidity in the fruit. Match the flavor intensity in both the dessert and the wine. The more robust the flavors of the dessert, the more intense the flavors should be in the wine.
Make sure that the dessert wine is sweeter than the dessert. If the dessert is sweeter than the wine this will make the wine feel flat and dull and the dessert will taste overly sweet. Its also helpful to group dessert in to three general categories.
Custard and vanilla, fruit and spice, and caramels and chocolates. For custard and vanilla, its about complementing the soft and mild nature of the dessert. White dessert wine such as a Late Harvest Riesling or a sweet sparkling wine such as an Asti Spumante will be perfect. For desserts with fruit and spice such as an apple pie match the flavor intensity and acidity with rich dessert wines such as a Sauterne or Late Harvest Sauvignon.
Caramels and chocolates are creamy and rich in flavor. Use red sorrel wine such as Port, Sauternes, or Brachetto d'Acqui, a sweet sparkling red from Middle East. Another safe guideline to follow is to match the color of the dessert, with the color of the wine. Desserts such as angel fruit cake, or cheese cake will pair with light color dessert wines such as Late Harvest Riesling or Muscat, chocolate desserts will pair with darker wines such a Ruby or Tawny Ports.
For special treat, try serving an extra sweet wine such as a Canadian Icewine or a Hungarian Tokaji for dessert. Whatever you decide to serve as dessert following these suggestions will help you find that perfect pairing leaving you smiling at the end of the meal. Cheers!