As the holidays quickly approach, wine and dessert are two of our favorite things. Although wines are usually paired with savory dishes and coffee paired with desserts, wine and desserts can find perfect harmony while livening up your seasonal soiree. So how do you know which wines are the best for your dessert selection? There are a few factors that you need to consider: acidity, intensity and sweetness. The rules are simple: wines pair with like colors; oaky wines go with simple flavors like vanilla bean, butterscotch and caramel; the sweeter the wine, the less sweet the dessert should be. With these easy rules and a list of wine and dessert pairings, step out of the box and try wine instead of coffee at your holiday table.
Sauvignon blanc originates from France, specifically Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. It’s a dry white wine and is very different than your average white thanks to its herbaceous notes. While you are sipping on a glass, expect to taste hints of lime, green apple and passion fruit as well as green bell peppers and jalapeño.
Dessert pairing: Lemon meringue tart
Riesling is one of the most aromatic grapes in the world, producing a highly acidic wine that originated in Germany. There are several varieties; dry, semi-sweet and sweet, and the flavor will vary depending upon the region that it was made. Some of the most common flavors that you will find while drinking riesling are lemon, apricot, peach, apple and honey.
Dessert pairing: Apple tarte tatin
Chardonnay is the most popular white grape in the world, originating in the Burgundy region of France. The fermentation process for this grape is traditionally done in oak barrels, which locks in its signature buttery flavor. Like a rich pastry you’ll taste notes of vanilla and cinnamon as well as tropical flavors such as banana, mango, melon and pineapple.
Dessert pairing: Butterscotch pot de creme
Prosecco is a sparkling wine that comes from Italy and is known for its crisp flavor. While sipping it, you’ll likely taste a hint of green apple, honeydew, pear and cream as well as some floral notes. This wine can be enjoyed on its own or added to fresh-squeezed juice or other refreshing cocktails.
Dessert pairing: Fresh berries and whipped cream
Pinot noir is known for its subtle hints of berries, cherries and cranberries that can stand up to a sweeter flavor profile. This grape is grown in cooler climates and, despite being a delicate grape that is fairly hard to grow, is competitively priced compared to other red wines.
Dessert pairing: Creme brûlée or chocolate mousse
Merlot originating from Bordeaux in France, this grape has an intense color that gives off flavors of plum, blackberries and leafy greens. Its earthy profile pairs nicely with rich flavors.
Dessert pairing: Dark chocolate truffles or double chocolate chip cookies
Port, a dessert wine, is most commonly enjoyed after dinner. This sweet red wine comes from Portugal and is known for its rich flavors of berries, chocolate, caramel and nuts. This wine should be paired with something not too sweet, maybe something with a pinch of salt.
Dessert pairing: Assorted cheese platter