Orange Coast Magazine

Matches Made in Heaven, Dessert Edition

Food and wine pairing, part 2

In Tuesday’s blog, I discussed matching wines with difficult-to-pair vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes. I also offered suggestions for what to drink with sushi, and salty fare. Now let’s talk about the most important part of the meal—dessert.

These pairings take the same forethought as matching wines to entrées and side dishes. Some of this will seem counterintuitive, but bear with me.

Cheeses: Generally it’s a good idea to match soft cheeses with white wines, and hard cheeses with red wines, although some matches still present issues. For instance, blue cheese works best with Champagne or sparkling wines. If you’d rather have red with it, go for something earthy or herbal, such as a Chinon from France, or an Oregon pinot noir. There is also a famous odoriferous soft cheese called Époisses. Pair this with a sweet wine, such as Sauternes from Bordeaux or the Chenin-Blanc-based wines from the Loire region of France.

Chocolate: Many people pair California cabernet with chocolate. This usually works because the wine is packed to the rafters with sweet fruit, if not residual sugar. However, probably the best combinations are Port or a late harvest red wine, such as granache, cabernet franc, or syrah because the sweetness and texture will mimic those of the chocolate.

Fruit-based desserts: This can be more difficult. Desserts such as pies, galettes, and tarts that contain fresh or frozen fruit require just the “perception” of sweetness in the wine, in order to preserve the fruitiness in the dessert. Rieslings from Alsace or Germany (Spatlese or Auslese), Moscato d’Asti from Italy, or Sauternes from Bordeaux, and the Chenin-Blanc-based wines from the Loire are perfectly suited for these desserts. Alternatively, some domestic options also include Moscato d’Asti, ice wine, rieslings, and gewürztraminers.

As we’ve discussed, there really is no right or wrong way to pair food and wine, since our senses of taste and smell differ widely. These are merely suggestions. So, get out there and experiment. And, don’t forget to report back to us with your discoveries.

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