Pairing Desserts And Wines

Hello Everyone,

This week we look at successful ways to wind down with some dessert ideas, part four of the discussion on menus and wines that match.

Try a new wine this week!


Rosa di Rosa

Nothing caps off a dinner like a great dessert with a well-matched wine. But a lot of people only do this during the holidays, and so haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it. Here are some pointers that I’ve picked up over many years of multi-course dinners ending this way.

First, in almost every case a dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert. The combination just tastes better that way. If you’re cooking the dessert yourself, you can adjust the sweetness.

One exception is red wine with chocolate. This has become very popular, and can work well. Or, it can work not so well. With dark chocolate, I like a dry red wine that’s fruit centered (some call this a New World style, like from California or Australia), not too tannic and puckery, and usually not overly oaked. Merlot often fits into this style, as do some cabernets (especially those from Paso Robles).

I once saw a representative for a California sparkling wine producer pour a Blanc de Noir (white wine from red grapes, in this instance from pinot noir), after milk chocolate. The result was surprisingly similar to chocolate covered cherries. It’s been years and I still remember it.

With fruit desserts, especially a nice apple tart, I like a late harvest Riesling. The best are from Germany, the best bargains mostly from California.

If you can’t find a late harvest Riesling, the next best choice is probably a late harvest Muscat. Italian versions, and some California versions, are labeled Moscato. If it’s in a half bottle, it’s probably the right wine.

And then there’s my now-famous experience in Italy, where groups kept asking about getting Rosa di Rosa here in the states. Semi-sweet, half-sparkling red wine from a grape I’ve seen only in that one quiet little corner of the Apennine Mountains, the wine that got me back into the wine business. It retails for less than $15 a bottle.

Categories: Legacy Archive