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Summer Wine Pairing Series with Master Sommelier Craig Collins – Desserts


Editor’s note: The sixth post in our Summer Wine Pairing Series, Master Sommelier Craig Collins explains his take on what wines pair best with dessert items.

I have a sweet tooth that makes dessert, and the wines that go with it, a necessary part of my meals. A great meal needs to be punctuated with something sweet the same way the pop of a cork should be followed by a great stem of champagne. Our creative culinary imaginations can find countless ways to wrap up the night from cheese cakes to tortes to cookies and finding the proper wine to pair with is just as easy.
Before we begin speaking about which wines with which dessert, it is helpful to identify what dessert wine is. This is a category of wine that has a high amount of residual sugar to them (they are very sweet) and typically come in a smaller, 375 ml, bottle. There are several different categories of dessert wine, each based on a different method of production. These categories include late harvest, botrytis, ice wine, fortified and the dried grape versions, or passito as the Italians like to say. There are some sparkling dessert wines as well which always bring life to the end of a long night!

The first thing I do when pairing dessert with wine is I make sure that the wine is sweeter than the dessert. This is always easy to accomplish as dessert wine is so sweet anyway. This leads me to the rule of complimentary flavors. We touched on this concept a few weeks ago as we discussed sauces and flavors with white meat and the same rule applies here. Think about the primary flavors of the dessert and pair the wine accordingly. Serving a chocolate or caramel covered cheesecake? These flavors will complement the darker richer flavors of a port wine nicely. For those of us that prefer fruit desserts like a Lithuanian apricot torte, the citrus note of these desserts pairs well with a late harvest wines such as an orange muscat. And for those of us still stuck on oreos and cookies from our youth, try the adult version of vin santo and biscotti. This is an Italian favorite that will keep you dunking for years.

Craig Collins, Master Sommelier
Twitter: @CCollinsMS

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