There’s no better way to finish off a sumptuous summer meal than serving an enticing dessert. For a truly sweet experience, you’ll want to pair it with an appropriate wine that will be complimentary while still allowing the dessert to take center stage.
There are a few basics of dessert pairing to keep in mind. Generally, creamy and rich desserts should be paired with a robust wine. Fruity and light desserts will match well with sweeter wines. Some desserts are enhanced by pairing them with fortified wines and dessert-specific wines. These wines are usually sweeter and make excellent matches for sweet treats, while also being ideal for sipping on their own.
From chocolate to fruits and from pies to cakes, here are a few summer dessert ideas that are paired with boozy sips for an exceptionally delicious experience.
Flaky biscuits topped with juicy, ruby red strawberries and a dollop of freshly whipped cream make up a classic American dessert at its best during the summer. Fresh, ripe strawberries offer their most succulent flavor, which is enhanced with a wine that knows how to let this dessert shine. Several choices include a sweet white Moscato, Riesling or Chenin Blanc. The fruity notes will enhance this dessert without overpowering it. Once you hit peach season, swap out those strawberries for fresh peaches and use the same wine pairings. Scrumptious!
Rich, creamy and luxurious, chocolate mousse is a smooth dessert made with semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Served chilled, it’s the perfect ending to a summer meal. A basic tenet of pairing wine with chocolate is that the wine should be sweeter than the chocolate. Pair this silky dessert with a dark, sweet and aromatic Muscat wine that can stand up to the strong chocolate flavors of the mousse.
Nothing says summer like a fresh blueberry pie that’s the perfect ending to any outdoor BBQ. Encased in a buttery crust, fresh blueberries burst with sweetness and flavor making it an irresistible dessert that’s always a crowd pleaser. Take it a step further by pairing it with a red wine that can stand up to the intensity of this fruity pie. This 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Zakin Wines (www.zakinwines.com) is a lush match that will echo the blueberries as well as complement with aromatic notes of pomegranate and cocoa shavings. (And if we’re honest, this wine is quite magnificent on its own, too.)
The rich, creamy texture of cheesecake is one its best features. Whether it’s a dreamy New York style cake that’s been baked and chilled to perfection, or one that’s beautifully swirled with fruit, it’s a dessert that deserves a wine pairing that recognizes its decadence. Because cheesecake contains fat, match it with a wine that’s more acidic. Choose a sweet Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc where the wine’s fruit flavors will work with any toppings or inclusions that you add to the dessert.
Brownies à la Mode
Warm and gooey brownies full of chocolate goodness and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream are a scrumptious finish for any casual summer dinner. A perfect pairing for chocolate as well as ice cream is Port, which is a fortified wine. The fortification process makes the wine sweeter and also boozier, so it’s perfect for sipping while you enjoy that outrageously delicious brownie.
Tangy and refreshing, a bright lemon dessert is always appreciated in warm weather. Lemon bars are an easy dessert to assemble where a buttery shortbread crust holds a citrus filling that’s garnished with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar. Pair it with an oaked chardonnay, such as this 2020 Russian River Valley Chardonnay from Zakin Wines (www.zakinwines.com). Resplendent with notes of lemon and apple, this acidic wine will enhance the citrus flavors in this delicious treat.
This smooth and creamy vanilla custard topped with a crunchy and caramelized sugar topping is always a sweet way to end a stellar meal. Crème Brulée is a simple yet elegant dessert that pairs beautifully with a fruity and spicy Sauternes or a Muscat dessert wine.
Here’s your chance to explore and be adventurous with dessert wines! Experiment with wines that you know you love but also take a chance on a wine that’s new. You might just find that perfect pairing for your favorite dessert.