How to match sweet wines with desserts

The most important rule to remember when matching wine and desserts is that a sweeter wine is always better.  Wine that doesn’t have ample sugar levels will invariably taste thin and tart.

Botrytis affected wines fit the bill nicely. Late harvest wines generally aren’t as sweet as their Botrytis cousins, but still offer excellent matching with lighter desserts.

Another wine you should consider is a Moscato.  This fruity sweet semi-sparkling white wine is low in alcohol (around 5 per cent) and is heaven when drunk with fresh fruit and other light fruity desserts.

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The ‘Chocolate’ – a crisp dark chocolate sphere filled with macerated cherries in cherry curd

Ice cream is almost like chocolate in its difficulty to match wine with. If it’s merely an accompaniment to a slice of cake or pudding, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem and you should continue with your normal wine matching.  If however you’re sitting in front of the TV smashing a litre of ice cream, this is probably not the best wine partnering moment! The creaminess and the coating ability of the ice cream, along with the cold temperature are very difficult for any wine to deal with.

Chocolate is also hell to match a wine with – and that’s because it is super sweet and coats the palate.  The only wine that can step up to the challenge is a rich Liqueur Muscat or Tokay.

Thanks to  renowned Sydney restaurant, Yellow, which let Conrad and I take over their restaurant recently.  Their desserts are heavenly.  Read all about the winning wines of the recent International Sweet Wine Challenge here.

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37 comments

  1. I agree that sweeter is generally better, but for the best match in my opinion the wine should be a little bit sweeter than the dessert, but not far sweeter.

    Hence fruit cocktail might be best with a late harvest Riesling (especially for the acidity) but something richer would be great with a 5 Putts Tokaji or an Alsace SGN Gewurz.

    And totally agree with PX on ice cream!

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  2. God, that chocolate sphere sounds delicious. Like Lavinia Ross, Dark chocolate and a port is wonderful. Tobin James’ Liquid Love (late harvest Zin) goes perfectly with chocolate. Like a port, It is quite sweet on it’s own.

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  3. Very good suggestions! I just want to chime on the subject of chocolate – there is a hope for the chocolate and wine 🙂 Milk chocolate works quite well with Champagne or many other sparkling wine. Dark chocolate, outside of been a perfect companion to Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot or Australian Shiraz, will also work quite well with Port. Plus, sweet sparkling wines based on the red grapes, such as Brachetto d’Acqui, can also work quite well with the chocolate.

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  4. Match chocolate with Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG. It is widely recognized as one of the few wines throughout the world which can be matched with dark chocolate.

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  5. I recently invited some folks over and I had tiramisu, my choice in wine was clearly not the best so we when with hot tea. I like your idea of Liqueur Muscat but don’t have access to it here, I may just get Malaga, is that alright replacement?

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  6. Possibilities to choose within in matching wine and chocolate (even the dark one): PX, Banyuls, Aleatico dell’Elba, some Montefalco Sagrantino Passito, Moscato di Scanzo (if You are able to find it, production is tiny), Recioto della Valpolicella, maybe some Maury and Passito di Pantelleria (the sweetest). I would avoid the sparklers, because cocoa is bitter and tannic. Specific labels (not being part of any denomination): Ala Amarascato di Salaparuta from Sicily and Anghelu Ruju by Sella & Mosca from Sardinia. Regards. Riccardo Margheri

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