It is time for our second installment on Tasting Pour’s series “Pairing Wine and Food.” If you missed the first article, click here. Now to learn about pairing sweet wine and food.
Sweet foods and sweet wines can be particularly troublesome. Since we drink less dessert wine, we tend to have less experience with the flavors and relative sweetness of different styles. If a separate wine is not planned for the dessert course, the main course wine may continue to be consumed with less than satisfactory result.
Dry wines just are not meant to go with dessert. The sweetness in the dessert makes wine taste less sweet, therefore the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert. Having an even sweeter dessert does not balance the equation. We do not know why. It is science and it is true. This can be a dilemma for the US dessert connoisseur who likes a layer cake stacked high with sugary buttercream frosting. To find a sweeter wine may be expensive (quality dessert wines are often pricey) or may result in a sugar induced coma.
Pair sweet wines with desserts that are naturally less sweet such as stone fruits and berries, shortbread, pound cake, and gingerbread. Late Harvest Rieslings, Muscats, and sweet sparkling wines are appropriate pairings.
Consider really sweet wines such as Pedro Ximenez or sweeter styles of Tokay for very rich desserts. Think outside the box and opt for a liqueur. Most are sweet enough to pair with your sweetest desserts, vary in price, and keep a long time once opened. Pair sweet wines with savory foods. Classic and delightful pairings include Port and blue cheese or Sauterne and foie gras.
If sugar plus even more sugar is just too much, coffee or tea is a viable alternative.
Sweet foods do not occur only in the dessert course. Keep in mind that sugar in food doesn’t just mask the sugar in wine. It also makes the tannins and acid in wines more pronounced and causes the wine to seem thinner. A sweet bbq sauce will make a very dry wine taste thin, astringent and bitter. Consider a young fruity new world wine like Australian Shiraz or Zinfandel