Expert food pairing with sweet wines

Wine, with its incredible versatility of styles, has gracefully developed into one of the most beloved beverages worldwide, making it an ideal partner for pairing with luscious desserts. It comes in a variation of colors, types, and levels of sweetness. These sweet wines, in particular, can significantly elevate the experience of savoring a delicious dessert. However, it's important to acknowledge that not all wines pair harmoniously with every dessert. By following some fundamental guidelines, one can improve the food and wine pairing experiences.

Knowledgeable pairing enhances the pleasure. (Photo: EwaStudio/

To master the art of pairing wines with desserts, VinoVossers can adopt our rule of thumb. Here's the basic blueprint to guide you:

- Sweet White Wines: Perfect for blue cheese and fruit-infused delicacies.

- Ice Wines: Ideal for fruity or creamy desserts and cheeses.

- Sweet Sparkling Wines: These versatile expressions can complement nearly every dessert.

- Red Fortified Sweet Wines: An unbeatable match for chocolate-centric delights.

Sweet wines are a very diverse wine category, so of course there are many more styles out there for you to explore, like the wines from Sundried Grapes or thode made with the Appassimento method. However with the techniques you learn here, you can explore wine pairings with any sweet wine type! And, of course, you can always find ideal wine pairing for your favourite sweet wines at VinoVoss!

Meet the Styles

Sweet White Wines have a broad spectrum of pairing possibilities. Take the Hungarian Tokaj, for instance, with a sweetness level of 5 Puttonyos Aszú. It offers a light body, refreshing acidity, and a moderate alcohol content between 11-13%. The primary grape variety, Furmint, imparts tropical and citric nuances, while its co-variety introduces a subtle herbal touch. This wine is tailor-made for fruit-centric desserts like caramelized apples and Christmas puddings.

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Aszú (Red Label)

On the other hand, traditional Sauternes from Bordeaux, with its rich body and sweetness, has secured international acclaim. While they often command a premium price, wine lovers can discover its neighboring region, Monbazillac, which offers remarkable quality at a fraction of the cost. These wines are perfect with hearty cheeses like Roquefort. They also harmonize with lemon tarts, crepes suzette, and the ever-popular crème brulee.  

Château Rieussec Sauternes (Premier Grand Cru Classé)

Tirecul la Gravière Monbazillac

Traveling to North America, Canada's chilly Niagara-On-The-Lake in Southern Ontario is renowned for its delicate Ice Wines. Frost Bitten, among other wineries, produce the rare style which has been harvested under the frosty cloak of night. Available in both white (predominantly Riesling or Vidal) and rosé (primarily Cabernet Franc), they are characterized by a lighter body and a pronounced fruit profile, bursting with notes of green apples, lemons, and peaches. The white variants complement creamy panna cottas or fruit-based desserts like banana pudding, while the rosé variants resonate with strawberries or subtle chocolates.

Frost Bitten Ice Riesling

Sweet Sparkling Wines are one of the most food friendly and versatile wines. Asti Spumante, with its delicate body, harmonious sweetness, and pristine grape character, is a match made in heaven for virtually any dessert. Even the occasionally found sweet Champagnes excel with fruity delights such as a medley of berries or indulgent ice creams. Incorporating Champagne can elevate the entire dining experience, leaving an indelible impression on your guests.

Ceretto Moscato d'Asti

Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Demi-Sec Champagne

Fortified Wines, though often overshadowed, are dessert pairing gems. Port wine stands out, courtesy of its full body, luxurious texture, and the elegant dance between its sweetness and grainy tannins. The best value can be found in “Late Bottled Vintages” (LBV). Chocolate and Port wine are a legendary duo. They can be served in a small chocolate cup, which is eaten after the Port has been enjoyed. Beyond chocolate, Ports also shines with nutty desserts, ice creams, and dishes featuring caramelized or dried fruits.

Quinta do Pégo LBV Port

The common characteristic of these sweet wines is that they can develop and improve in quality over time. The alcohol, sweetness, acidity, and tannins all play a role in the wine's longevity, making it worthwhile to either age or invest in aged expressions. Sauternes, for example, gains greater complexity with age, while Vintage Port sees its tannins soften, evolving to showcase more pronounced dried fruit and leather notes. Nonetheless, their pairing attributes with desserts remain consistent.

In essence, the potential pairings between wines and desserts are limitless. This guide merely scratches the surface, offering insights into classic combinations. With practice on your journey of exploration and experimentation, the most important aspect is to enjoy every sip and bite.

Cheers from the VinoVoss team!

Peter Douglas

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