A sweet dessert wine is the perfect ending to a meal filled with complementary wine pairings. These wines are made to act as accompaniments to dessert or as replacements for dessert after a meal. Dessert wines have higher sugar content than typical wines. Both sweet and savory foods can make excellent dessert wine pairings.
Dessert Wine Types
Several dessert wine choices are available to close your meal. Late-harvest wine is made from grapes left to over-ripen on the vine, which increases sugar content. The fermenting process does not change all this sugar to alcohol, so the resulting wine is sweet. Almost any type of grape can be used to create a late-harvest wine.
Ice wines are made from overripe grapes that have been exposed to a frost, then picked and pressed. This process produces syrupy, sweet wines. Fortified wines have another alcohol added to them after fermentation. For example, port, which can be a red dessert wine or a lighter wine (called tawny port), has added brandy.
Pairing Dessert Wines with Food
Sweet dessert wine can pair with sweet foods, but this is not a necessity. In fact, some people think sweet desserts overpower the flavors of dessert wine. Dessert wines also pair well with foods like cheeses and foie gras; rich, savory foods are nicely complemented by the wine’s sweet flavor. For example, port and Stilton cheese are a classic pair.
Dessert and Wine Pairings
Light desserts, like fruit tarts, pair well with lightly sweet wine like Moscato. Dessert wine pairings for very sweet desserts, like chocolate cake or mousse, can be difficult to find. Some people enjoy a sweet wine with a sweet dessert. Others find that even sweet dessert wines may not stand up to these treats; after eating a rich cheesecake, a dessert wine may taste flat or even bitter in comparison. However, sweet desserts can also be paired with Champagne, which can cut through their rich flavors.