The majority of wine fanatics would affirm the fact that sweet wines and sweet foods are difficult to pair. As we don’t indulge much in dessert wines, so we have less experience in matching food and wine. I don't understand why we tend to stick to one kind of wine in a three-course meal, while we can explore different flavors and sweetness! If I may say, we are doing our taste buds an injustice, and that's not right. Lol!
Dry wines don’t pair well with desserts. As desserts are sugary, making the dry wine has a smooth taste. To get the authentic flavor of your wine, the type of wine served with dessert should be much sweeter than the dessert. Pairing sweet wines with the right dish give a delightful dining experience. We all have our bragging rights in wine tasting, and this shouldn't hinder us from further wine exploration.
Having said, what makes the perfect pair combination of food and wine? Well, I will give you a few suggestions on the wine pairing guide. But remember to thank me later!
Rule of Thumb for an Ideal Match:
There are two pointers to help you make the right choice.
- First, both dessert foods and sweet wines have different variants of sweetness. So, when choosing sweet wine, ensure that it matches with the sweetness level of the dish. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a funny concoction of taste in your mouth, which is not pleasing.
- Another essential clue when choosing the right match is the type of dessert. Is it rich and creamy or tangy and fruity? For Tangier desserts, you’ll need to pair wine with fresh acidity like Chenin Blanc or Riesling. Richer ones will pair perfectly with softer wines like Muscat or Sémillon.
Overall, a pair of sweet wines with sweet dishes – desserts. That is why they are called dessert wines! Necessarily, they should be more delicious than the dishes to give you the desired taste. However, if you are the wild one who likes to explore different flavors to discover something new, you can be excused, but don’t go overboard weird. You can match sweet wines with the main course if you wish to. By following some simple guidelines, you will achieve your wine taste goals to see what works and what doesn’t.
Sweet Wines for Perfect Food Pairing:
It is the technique of wine preparation that makes the wine sweet, not the grape type. It doesn't mean; there are no favorites for making sweet wines. They include:
- Muscat Blanc (Moscato)
- Tawny Port
- Ice Wine
- Vin Santo
The Pairing Procedure
To see if the type of food matches the wine offered, a simple test can be done. Have a bite and chew for some time, followed by a sip of wine. If you feel like there is an added flavor that compliments the dish positively, then you’ve got it right. The taste should be sweet, with no signs of a struggle between two kinds of sweetness. You should look for its attributes of sweetness, tartness, and medium-light intensity. When these attributes are combined with the food components, it will help you achieve the perfect pair.
- Spicy Food Pairing: Sweet White Wines served with spicy foods should be chilled with low alcohol content. This will make a perfect match.
- Salty Food Pairing: To get that desirable salty-sweet effect, you can pair salty foods with sweet white wines
- Sour Food Pairing: For sour foods like vinegar-based sauces, you need to pair sweet white wines with high acidic foods that can neutralize the sourness to give you that perfect pairing
- Light Meals Pairing: Meals such as tofu or meat goes well with sweet white wines with light-to-medium intensity
- Sweet Food Pairing: If you love sweet Italian delicacies like cakes and cookies, then combine them with sweet wines with high acidity.
- No Chocolate Pairing: To perfectly pair desserts with no chocolate in them like caramel, coconut, butterscotch, fruit, or vanilla, look for sweet white wines to match their sweetness
Examples for a Perfect Pairing
Spicy Food with Riesling Wine
What fun of combining sweet and spicy? Although Riesling came from Germany, the foods that pair well with it are sampled from Asia. Asian food is commonly spicy and pairs very well with Riesling. To much spice in your mouth makes it want to explode, and that where sweet Riesling comes to the rescue to quench that heat. Since Riesling has high acidity, what it does is strip off all the proteins and fats and hence turning off the capsicum burn in your tongue. All you need is a fully chilled up bottle of this sweet white wine to compliment this combination.
Light Meals with Gewürztraminer Wine
Gewürztraminer has a high alcohol content compared to other sweet wines, which lowers its acidity. It will make it taste sweet, but not like other wines from this category. This is what makes it a perfect match for poached/steamed dishes with subtle flavoring. It also goes well with Chinese green onion pancakes.
No Chocolate with Moscato d’Asti wine:
Moscato food pairing requires a much softer flavor. With an average sweetness level of about 90–120 g/L RS, Moscato wine tastes sweeter than the others. With a lower level of acidity, it has a delicate taste that matches rich chocolate torte. Therefore, pairing it with softer flavors such as caramel, vanilla, and coconut or with creamy, rich desserts will give you that great awesome taste.
Salty Food with Tawny Port:
A great pairing that would seem to come from heaven is the Tawny Port with creamy blue cheese, like Stilton. If your mouth has a thing for sweet and salty combination, then this is it. The fat found in the cheese balances the high alcohol content allowing the sweet and savory flavors to take you to cloud nine levels of taste!
Sweet Food with Vin Santo:
Last but not the least, we have a combination of Vin Santo (“holy wine”), Italian wine belonging to the family of straw wines with notes of tropical fruit, hazelnut, and dried apricot. This classic wine pairs well with Almond Sbrisolona, a crunchy Italian cookie that’s crumbly, and decadently buttery. This combo will surely make your day.
The perfect pairing is achieved from flavors that complement each other. To have the perfect match, try planning the dishes according to wine, not the other way around. This enables focus on the original purpose of wine – to complement the food.