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Simple Dessert and Wine Pairings With Chart

Karen Frazier
Goblets of wines and desserts

Wines pair very well with desserts if you select the right combination. A good pairing enhances the flavors in both the wine and the dessert. Trying these pairings is an excellent way to take your dessert to the next level.

Wines for Dark Chocolate Desserts

Desserts such as dark chocolate torte, dark chocolate mousse, or dark chocolate truffles all pair very well with different wines that complement the rich, bittersweet flavors. You have all kinds of wine options ranging from sweet, fruity wines to dry reds.

Berry Wines

Many wineries make raspberry, strawberry, and other berry wines. These wines are a beautifully classic flavor combination with dark chocolate desserts. Chocolate and berries go very well together, and the sweetness in the wine balances the bitterness of the chocolate perfectly.

Ruby Port

Ruby Port has a deep, rich, dark fruit flavor that's perfect with dark chocolate. In fact, it's a delicious classic combination well worth a try as it balances the bitterness of dark chocolate with sweet, dark fruit flavors.

Chocolate Wine

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but chocolate pairs well with chocolate. Creamy chocolate wines, like Chocovine, have a light, milk chocolate flavor with a warmth that tastes almost like a fortified wine. These sweet, creamy wines are great with dark chocolate because they tone it down while still offering complementary flavor profiles.

Shiraz

This bold, dry, spicy red from Australia often has big, bold, fruit-forward flavors that taste like berries and jam. While Shiraz is dry, the fruit flavors complement the dark chocolate well while the tannins cut through the fattiness of the dessert. The wine's dryness also balances the sweetness of the chocolate while the jam flavors smooth out any bitterness.

Wines With Crème Brûlée and Vanilla-Flavored Desserts

This rich, creamy vanilla custard topped with burnt sugar makes the perfect finish to a meal. Pairing it with a dessert wine makes the dish even more delicious.

Sauternes or Barsac

The most classic wine pairing for a crème brûlée is sweet white wine from the Bordeaux region. Both Sauternes and Barsac wines are made with Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been infected with botrytis cinera. This fungus adds layers of complexity to the wines while the lateness of the harvest means the wines have a high residual sugar content. The result is a lush, sweet wine with tropical flavors and a nice balanced acidity that perfectly complements the vanilla custard.

Moscato (Muscat)

This white varietal has a slight sweetness to it. Typical flavors in Moscato wines include apricots and almonds, which complement the lush vanilla custard. Pairing a Moscato with crème brûlée also brings down the sweetness of the custard just a bit because although it has a slight sweetness, it isn't over the top like other dessert wines.

Gewürztraminer

This German dry white might seem like a surprising choice with a rich crème brûlée, but when you look at it terms of flavor and balance, it really makes sense. Gewürztraminer is a dry, spicy wine with nice acidity. The acidity cuts through the fat of the custard while the dryness of the wine helps balance the sweetness of the dessert. The spice of Gewürztraminer brings character to the mild vanilla flavors of the crème brûlée. This is a great wine choice for people who like their desserts slightly less sweet.

Pairing Wine With Apple Pie and Apple or Pear Desserts

Apple pies are sweet and spicy. Typically, wines that pair well with apple pie will also pair well with other apple desserts, such as apple brown Betty, apple crisp, and baked apples.

Apple pie with caramel, whipped cream and wine

German Riesling

Riesling from Germany comes in multiple levels of dryness and sweetness. The three best choices for apple dessert pairings are (from the least sweet to the sweetest) Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese. Riesling tends to have very high acidity, which cuts through the sweetness of pie well. It also has a lightly spicy character that blends with pie spices.

Finally, the flavor profile of Riesling often favors apples, pears, and other tree fruits, which blends well with the flavor of apples. If you prefer less sweetness in your wine to balance the sugar in the pie, choose a Kabinett. If you want a lot of sweetness in your wine, choose an Auslese.

Prosecco

Prosecco is a lightly fizzy Italian wine similar to Champagne. Prosecco comes in varying degrees of sweetness. To balance the sweetness of the pie, choose an off-dry Prosecco, which is lightly sweet but not overwhelming. Prosecco is crisp and acidic, which matches the acidity of the apples in the pie.

Moscato d'Asti

This Italian white is slightly fizzy with a light sweetness. It also has nice fruit flavors like apples and pears, which balances perfectly with an apple pie. While Moscato d'Asti is slightly sweet, it isn't overpowering, so you won't be layering super sweet on top of sweet.

Lemon Meringue Pie and Citrus Curd Wine Pairing

Because lemon desserts such as lemon meringue pie are inherently acidic, you can pair them with wines that are quite sweet.

Ice Wine

Ice wines are made from white wine grapes harvested after the first frost, so the sugars have concentrated. This makes ice wines deliciously sweet. This sweetness balances the acidity in lemon desserts, making a perfect and delicious pairing.

Late Harvest Whites

Late harvest white wines are made from grapes harvested late in the season. Therefore, the wines tend to be relatively low alcohol but higher in residual sugar. These wines range from slightly sweet to very sweet. Try a late harvest Viognier or Chardonnay, which tend to have citrusy flavors that will complement the lemon well.

Champagne

A dry Champagne or sparkling wine will also pair well with a lemon meringue pie. The biscuity flavors in Champagne match the flavors found in the crust while the toastiness of Champagne matches the browning of the meringue. Finally, Champagne tends to be dry, which will balance sweet flavors in the dessert.

Pumpkin Pie and Warm Spice Desserts Wine Pairing

Pumpkin pie and other pumpkin desserts tend to be sweet, creamy, and spicy. Many wines pair well with these flavors, balancing the creaminess and complementing the spice.

Pumpkin cream pie with white chocolate salted caramel with wine

Tawny Port

Tawny Port has a golden color and a warm, rich flavor. The fortified wine tends to be sweet, but it also has wonderful caramel and spice flavors that perfectly complement the pumpkin and spices. The high alcohol content balances the creaminess of the pumpkin custard.

Australian Dessert Muscat

This is a fortified wine similar to a tawny Port. It has sweet and spicy flavors as well as an appealing golden color. The flavors of this wine are often described as warm, raisiny, or toffee-like. These warm flavors mix well with the warm spices in pumpkin pie.

Madeira

This fortified wine from Portugal comes in varying degrees of sweetness, from dry to sweet. Choose a sweet or semi-sweet Madeira to pair with your pumpkin dessert. Madeira tends to have smoky, spicy, and nutty flavors, all which match well with pumpkin. The high alcohol content also balances the creamy custard beautifully.

Tokaji

Hungarian Tokaji has rainy flavors that are lovely with the spice of pumpkin pie and similar desserts. This is a sweet dessert wine that nicely balances the spice from the pie.

Tiramisu and Mocha Dessert Wine Pairings

Many wines will complement tiramisu and other coffee-flavored desserts. Coffee is a flavor that blends well with different flavor profiles.

Vin Santo

This sweet Italian dessert wine has a pretty golden color. It tastes of nuts, such as hazelnuts with a touch of sweetness. Nuts and coffee go extremely well together, so a Vin Santo will balance out the coffee-flavored tiramisu beautifully.

Cream Sherry

Cream Sherry is a sweet, fortified wine with a mahogany color. It has a nutty flavor with a touch of sweetness that balances the bitterness of the coffee flavors in tiramisu.

Ruby Port

This fortified wine has a deep burgundy color and a complex sweetness. Ruby Port tends to be fruit forward, with flavors of berries taking the forefront. It also has subtle undertones of nuts. The flavor of berries and nuts are the perfect complement to coffee flavors.

Berry Desserts

Whether it's a summer pudding or a raspberry pie, berry desserts work well with various wines that complement their flavors.

Rosé

Rosé wine ranges from dry to sweet, and it has delicate floral and berry notes that are perfect alongside berry desserts. For sweeter desserts, opt for a drier rosé to balance out sweetness.

Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise

Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise is a sweet, fortified wine from the Rhône. It has fruity, honeyed, and citrus notes that go well with most berries and berry desserts.

Cava

The Spanish sparkling wine Cava can be dry or sweet, both which work well with berries. As with rosé wines, opt for drier version with sweeter desserts and sweeter versions with less sweet desserts to create balance and contrast.

Wine and Dessert Pairing Chart

The following chart summarizes some great wines to pair with desserts as well as a suggestion or two of specific wines for each.

Dessert Type Wine Recommendations

Dark chocolate desserts

Berry wine

Fragolino sparkling wine
Ruby Port Croft Fine Ruby Port
Chocolate wine Chocolate Shop Chocolate Wine
Shiraz Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz
Crème brûlée and vanilla-flavored desserts Sauternes or Barsac Château Coutet Barsac
Moscato/Muscat Barefoot Cellars Moscato
Gewürztraminer Terlan Gewürztraminer

Apple or pear desserts

German Riesling

Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese

Prosecco

Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Superiore

Moscato d'Asti Marchese Dell' Elsa Moscato D' Asti Wine
Citrus curd desserts Icewine Iniskillin Vidal Icewine
Late harvest white wine Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling
Champagne Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut
Tiramisu or mocha desserts Vin Santo Felsina Vin Santo
Cream Sherry Osborne Oloroso Cream Sherry
Ruby Port Fonseca Bin 27
Berry desserts Rosé Miraval Rosé
Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise

Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise

Cava Mercat Cava Brut Nature
Pumpkin pie and warm spice desserts Tawny Port Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny
Australian dessert Muscat Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat
Madeira

Blandy's 10 Year Madeira Rich Malmsey

Tokaji

Kiralyudvar Tokaji Sec Furmint

Matching Wine and Dessert

While the above suggestions can help you start, there are no hard and fast rules for pairing wines and desserts. Choose wines you love with desserts you love. Seek flavors that balance each other and wines that help you achieve your desired level of sweetness, and you'll wind up with a delicious pairing.

Simple Dessert and Wine Pairings With Chart