There’s nothing better after a great meal than taking some time to linger at the table with family and friends and chat, nibble on some sweets, and relax. So, how do you decide which wine to serve with dessert? As a general rule, an acidic wine goes best with a fruit dish, which also has natural acidity; the more intense the flavors of a dessert, the more intense the wine; and a dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert itself. As the colors of the dessert get darker, the wine also should be darker. Overall, a good wine can make a dessert even better! Here, a few tips for selecting the perfect wine to go with some of the most popular after-dinner dessert genres.
CUSTARD AND VANILLA
Flavor profile: Mild, light, and buttery
Suggested Pairings: Custard, petit fours, and vanilla-flavored desserts pair best with white wines, such as ONEHOPE’s Monterrey Riesling, California Brut Sparkling Wine, or Monterrey Muscat Canelli. These complement the mild, light, and buttery flavors of both the desserts and the wines.
Recipe to try:
2 cups Riesling wine or fruity white wine
1⁄2 cup water
4 medium eggs
1⁄2 cup sugar
- Place all ingredients in a double boiler and set over (but not touching) boiling water.
- Cook, beating mixture constantly and vigorously with a wire whisk, until custard thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Refrigerate and serve cool.
FRUIT AND SPICE
Flavor profile: Apples, pears, cinnamon
Suggested pairings: Fruit and spiced desserts, such as apple pie, tarts, poached pears, and cinnamon concoctions, are complemented best by white wines as well. Try ONEHOPE’s 29 Twelve California Dessert Wine, or even pink champagne (such as ONEHOPE’s 2015 North Coast Reserve Sparkling Rosé). The fruity aromas of the wine will pair well with the spiced fruit favors in the dessert.
Recipe to try:
1 cup dessert wine
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
5 large or 10 small plums, about 2 pounds cut into wedges
2 pints of fresh raspberries
- Place the wine and the ground ginger into a bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.
- Put the wedges of plum into the bowl with the wine mixture and let soak for 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing every five minutes.
- Stir the raspberries into the mixture and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.
CARAMEL AND CHOCOLATE
Flavor profile: Dark, buttery, caramelized, rich
Suggested pairings: Caramel and chocolate desserts are best suited for wines with dark, buttery, caramelized, and rich flavors. Try red wines, such as ONEHOPE’s California Pinot Noir or California Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course, the classic chocolate pairing is a port wine, which always is a great fit. If you’re a white-wine lover, try pairing bittersweet chocolate with a zippy White Zinfandel (such as ONEHOPE’s California Zinfandel; semi-sweet chocolate with Muscat; and creamy milk chocolate with a light-bodied Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.
Recipe to try:
Molten Chocolate Cake
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
- In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar, and salt at high speed until thickened and pale.
- Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately.