Pairing desserts with wine isn’t easy, but when it’s done well, this combination can be a deliciously decadent treat that can make your holiday party or family gathering an instant success.
A general rule for finding the right wine to complement a cheesecake is to make sure the wine is a bit sweeter than the dessert in most cases, but not in all. Sometimes a crisp, dry wine can be just the thing to offset a particularly sugary flavor in the best way possible. As with pairing drinks and other foods, when pairing wine with desserts, it’s important to strike a balance between acidity and sweetness.
Below is a list of 8 flavored cheesecakes and complementary wines you might serve 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, but with a plain cheesecake, a simple wine is a great complement to the classic flavor.
- Apricot-Glazed Cheesecake—
An orange muscat wine would be a lively pairing with any dessert featuring apricots, as the citrus can brighten the potentially heavy honey-like qualities of the glaze, as well as enhancing 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, and 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, a 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.
White wine, pink champagne or a riesling will also go well with a slice of pumpkin pie.
- 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 the cheesecake’s 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.
Remember; bubbles bring out the fresh, bright flavors and zing of all things citrus.
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 “wine and cheesecake” theme party to try new wines and desserts with your friends. With the holidays coming up, you can use the helpful wine and cheesecake pairing tips above to plan a perfect party with pals or a family get-together full of sweetness, drinks and delicious desserts.