Gael Gand
Cherry Charlotte with Lemon Confit and Brown Sugar Ice Cream by Gael Gand, Co-Owner and Executive Pastry Chef of Tru Restaurant in Chicago. Hmm...would this need three different wines?




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KRIS PRASAD is Wine Editor of THE NIBBLE and not only enjoys a great dessert—he makes them as well. Click here to email him with questions and comments.



November 2005

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Wine

Wine & Dessert Pairings

Wondering What to Pour With That Piece of Cake?

It isn’t easy to do a good matching of wine and desserts—and just one look at the chart below will tell you why. “Dessert” is such an expansive category with so many different flavors, that it takes more than a dozen wines to successfully pair the basics. We’ve taken 21 favorite categories of dessert and provided the best options for each.

Also see our article on Pairing Wine With Chocolate.

Alcohol-Flavored (Baba au Rhum) Bual or Malmsey, but if it has a rum-flavored cream filling, try a crisp fruity wine like a Vouvray Demi-Sec.
Apple Tart Apples are beautifully matched by Anjou wines—a Quarts de Chaumes or a Bonnezaux. Anything else is a second-best choice.
Cardamom, Lavender Wines that let the fragrance grow on the palate are best: Torcolato (Veneto) or a German Riesling from Pfalz.
Cheesecake Cheesecake is hard on most wines. Serve Champagne or a rich wine like a Sauternes or a Selection de Grains Nobles (SGN) Gewürtztraminer or Riesling from Alsace.
Chocolate Vintage Port, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Lustau Muscat Sherry “Emlin,” Recioto Amarone. Simple dark chocolate is excellent with Cognac.
Citrus Acidity kills flavor (like vinegar in food). Muscats are the best choice here—a Beaumes de Venise or a California Muscat like Bonny Doon.
Coconut Great matches include Sauternes (particularly Lafaurie-Peyraguey), Late Harvest Semillon from Australia, or a Beerenauslese Riesling from Rheingau. Nigori saké, the sweet, milky roughly-filtered saké, is also an interesting match here.
Cookies, Petit Fours Kick back and enjoy the best you have. Everything works including the lightish Commandaria from Cyprus. You can also try a Vin Santo.
Cream-Based Pie or Tart This needs something sweet and spicy at the same time: a Tawny Port (a 10 or 20 year old) with its oak and fragrance, or a South African Late Harvest Riesling.
Custards (Zabaglione, Panna Cotta, Flan, et al) Champagne, a California Sparkling Wine, or a Cava from Spain.
Fresh Fruit, Dried Fruit Moscato D’Asti or a late harvest Viognier from California.
Fruit Pie, Tart, Crisp A Vandage Tardive (VT) Alsace Gewürtztraminer or Pinot Gris; with apple and quince a Sauternes or Anjou wines (Bonnezaux)
Honey-Flavored These are too rich to work with wine. A Demi-Sec Champagne works well to cleanse the palate.
Ice Cream Like Cheesecake, these are hard on wines: too much fat and cold create a battlefield for any wine to break through. But try a Pedro Ximinez (Sherry). Sip it or pour it on! Nigori saké, the sweet, milky roughly-filtered saké, can be interesting here too.
Lemon/Key Lime Tart, Meringue See Citrus above.
Mousse, Pudding, Trifle Late Harvest Gewürtztraminer, Fortified Muscats (Australian or American).
Pecan, Walnut, Almond Pie/Tart An old sweet Oloroso Sherry or a Malmsey Madeira—both slightly rancid and nutty in aroma. Sciacchetra, a rare wine from northern Italy near Genoa, also works.
Poached Pear If poached in red wine, nothing except a Brachetto (Piemonte) works. If poached in Port, serve Port. If poached in white wine, serve Sauternes, German Riesling, or Vouvray Molleaux.
Sorbet Sorbets are too delicate to work with wine. However, they can be followed with an eau de vie or a nigori saké.
Soufflé With a hot souffle most every wine is wasted. Enjoy the delicate, airy dessert and forget about pairing wine or any beverage with it.
Tiramisú Sweet Malvasia matches the rum or malvasia in the dessert; or Champagne.

Let us know which pairings you enjoy the most!

Push your pairings to the next level with these books:

Wine and Food Pairing wine lover wild sweets
Wine & Food Pairing: The dessert section is not to be missed. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook: Bring your desserts to the same caliber as your wine. Click here for more information or to purchase. Wild Sweets: Take your pairings to the wild side. Click here for more information or to purchase.


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