Desserts and Dessert Wines

Wine Of The Week:
Wooden Valley Riesling

Hello Everyone,
What’s more American than apple pie? Maybe something is, but to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, let’s talk about the perfect wine pairings for apple pies, apple tarts, chocolate desserts and more.
Try a new wine this week!

Nothing caps off a holiday dinner like a great dessert with a well-matched wine.  But a lot of people don’t do this often, 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 ending dinners this way.

First, in almost every case a dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert.  If your dessert is too sweet it could make the dessert wine taste bitter.  If you’re cooking the dessert yourself, you can adjust the sweetness.

One exception is red wine with chocolate, a very popular restaurant offering.  It 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.  Deep, full-bodied merlot often fits into this style, as do some cabernets (especially many of the ones from Paso Robles).  A late harvest zinfandel, or other reds that have a bit of sweetness can be an even better match, though there aren’t many available

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 lingering finish was surprisingly similar to chocolate covered cherries.  It’s been years and I still remember it.

Late harvest sauvignon blanc (and blends), such as a Sauternes from France’s Bordeaux region can be really good with custards.
With fruit desserts, especially a nice apple tart, I like a late harvest riesling.  The best are from Germany, but the best bargains now are mostly from California or Washington.

If you can’t find a late harvest riesling the next be choice is probably a late harvest muscat.  Italian versions, and some California versions, are labeled moscato.   California moscato is often heavier than their Italian cousins.

And whichever sweeter white wine you choose to pour with dessert, I’d be careful not to serve it too chilled.  Just take it out of the refrigerator a few minutes before serving.

Last year I found a good sweet riesling from California, from a valley that sits adjacent to southern Napa Valley’s Carneros district called Seisun (“seh SOON”) Valley.  It’s from Wooden Valley, where the Lanza family has been growing grapes and making wines for many decades.  ($10-$15 price range)

Wooden Valley Riesling is from Suisun Valley, right next door to Napa’s Carneros District.

Categories: Food