food.and.wine.pairing

(pairing wine with dessert)

The major thing to watch for when pairing with dessert is that if your food is much sweeter than the wine, the wine will end up tasting sour and bitter. Just like with any other food, certain generalizations can help.

• Fruit - Why fruit is considered dessert is a mystery, but there are too many pies, cobblers and more to ignore it. The best fruit dessert wines are late harvest wines like Sauternes and TBA Rieslings. These wines have lush fruity flavors and a lot of sugar, yet they retain great acidity so you finish feeling refreshed instead of weighed down by sugar.

• Chocolate - The best way to go with chocolate is Port. Ruby is the basic style of Port. These go well with softer chocolates, dark chocolate and any chocolate and berry fruit combo. The other main style of port is Tawny. These are aged in oak and pick up nutty, caramel characteristics, and thus go really well with chocolate and nuts or caramel. Ports tend to last longer than normal wine after being opened, so don't feel like you need to pound through a full bottle just because it's there: take your time and enjoy over several different meals.

• Other - This could be the cream, pudding, cake, ice cream, etc. category. If it doesn't have chocolate in it, you're likely better off pairing the way you would with fruit. Just remember to try to keep the wine sweeter than the dessert. For really sugary items, Australia has an intense, thick, fruity wine called Rutherglen Muscat - it has alcohol added to it like a Port but is fresher and sweeter, and it has more of the grape and apricot flavors than the cherry and raspberry of Port. You can also go with one of Hungary's late harvest wines called Tokaji (pronounced toe-KAI).