Pairing desserts with wine isn’t easy, but when it’s done well, it’s a deliciously elegant treat that can make your gathering an instant success.
A general rule for finding the right wine to compliment a dessert is to make sure the wine is a bit sweeter than the dessert in most cases, but not all. Sometimes a crisp, dry wine can be just the thing to offset a particular flavor in the best way possible.
As with pairing wines and other foods, when pairing with desserts, it’s still important to strike a balance between acidity and sweetness. Below, we’ve given you a list of popular desserts and some wines you might serve with them to bring out the best in both.
- Classic Cheesecake—
The rich, creamy texture of a plain cheesecake works great with sparkling wines, Champagne or nice Sauternes. Depending on the flavors you choose to add to your cheesecake, such as different types of fruits, you may want to go in a different direction with your beverage.
- Apricot-Glazed Cheesecake—
An orange Muscat wine would be a lively pairing with any dessert featuring apricots, as the citrus would brighten the potentially heavy honey-like qualities of the glaze and enhance the fruitiness of the apricots.
- Chocolate Cheesecake—
A vintage port is the go-to wine for any chocolate and vino partnership, but don’t write off the lighter reds, as a late harvest zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon can also serve as a good match. Generally, as the desserts get darker and richer, so do the wines, so with something as light as a chocolate-flavored cheesecake, you can get away with a lighter wine.
- Caramel/Turtle Cheesecake—
To properly balance the buttery decadence of caramel, red wine is definitely your number one choice. A Pinot noir or nice Shiraz would be light and sweet, allowing the rich caramel to shine while still keeping the balance between acid and sugar.
- Pumpkin Cheesecake—
Popular around the holidays, the spicy, cinnamon notes of a pumpkin cheesecake are beautifully brought out by a white wine, pink champagne, or a Riesling, which can soften the spiciness, allowing the flavors to be appreciated without overpowering the taste buds.
- Strawberry/Blueberry/Raspberry Cheesecake—
A light sparkling white wine, such as a Moscato d’Asti will enhance the sweet and dynamic notes of the berries on your cheesecake, but if you’d prefer something less sweet, a light rosé will work as well.
- Almond, Pecan or Walnut Cheesecake—
If your cheesecake recipe involves nuts, or perhaps a glaze involving fruit and nuts, remember that nuts pair wonderfully with a light Madeira or a sherry with nutty undertones. If your nutty glaze involves apples, a Pinot Gris, blueberry or even an Anjou wine can also be a good match.
- Lemon/Key Lime Cheesecake—
As with the apricots, citrus fruits are also best served with a Muscat, sparkling white wine or Champagne to keep the flavors light and refreshing.
Don’t forget that pairing desserts like cheesecakes with wine doesn’t have to be an occasional after-dinner activity. You can even have a theme party if you’d like where the sole purpose of your gathering is to try new wines and cheesecakes together. Take notes, take pictures, and have a sweet time. Enjoy!