The Bar Series: Wine and Dessert Pairings
We’re no strangers to combining dessert and booze. Our test kitchen is a smorgasbord of experimentation, touching on everything from blueberries and tequila to chocolate and stout to sugar and champagne. That’s why we thought it’d be great to start a Bar Series and talk about how to pair desserts with great drinks. It’s a perfect approach for parties, or purely for fun. After all, we’re Sift Dessert Bar, and we know how to create a perfect bar menu in more ways than one!
Our roots are deep in the heart of wine country, so naturally, it makes sense to start with wine pairings. Wine is one of the ideal pairings for sweet, rich, and complex flavors. The natural terroir of the wine imparts notes from everything under the sun, and the expert vintners of Sonoma and Napa Counties know exactly how to make them sing. There’s something for every palate, from the wine novice to the vintage expert. We’ve hand-picked a selection of our desserts and paired them up with the perfect wine, plus a brief explanation of what makes each pairing just right.
Rosé all Day Macarons & Sparkling Wine
This pairing may seem a little on the nose, but it’s absolutely wonderful. Sparkling wines like champagne and prosecco come in a wide flavor range, from very dry to sweeter on the palate. You can find local Sonoma and Napa sparkling wines tinged pink with Pinot Noir grapes or full of delightful residual sugars that dance on the tongue. A “vin vivant,” French for a sweet “lively wine,” is an excellent choice to try with a French macaron.
Sparkling wines are more delicate in flavor, lending themselves best to lighter fare like fruit, oysters, or cheese. Naturally, our favorite raspberry macaron with champagne buttercream filling is an ideal choice. The berry flavor would pair well with a Brut Rosé wine to match its tartness, or a lovely prosecco to meet its sweetness. Look for wines with notes of berry, vanilla, baked goods, custard, and apple.
Ginger Molasses Cookies & Sauternes
Let’s turn up the spice, shall we? One of the very best things about wine is the depth of flavor you can find in every bottle, even among wines of the same type. No matter which wine growing region you’re in, you’ll find wines that edge more earthy, or fruity, or spicy. If you’ve ever had a glass of wine with food before, you’ll know how every note in the wine can shift and change depending on what you’re eating. That’s the core of pairing, and when you’re eating a delightfully spiced cookie, you’ll want something that stands up.
The ginger in our Ginger Molasses Cookies is pleasantly warming, so why not help that warmth spread with a beautiful dessert wine? Sauternes wines are very sweet dessert wines that come from white wine grapes and a specific sort of fungus – Botrytis cinerea. Don’t let that name or the fact that it’s a fungus scare you off because it’s exactly what gives this wine its concentrated sweet flavor. These wines taste of apricot and honey, and some have a hint of nuttiness. It’s a flavor profile that plays very nicely with a spiced dessert.
Chocolate Fleur de Sel Cake & Port
If you’ve ever looked at a menu of dessert wine, you’ve almost assuredly seen a port listed among the offerings. This fortified wine originates in Portugal, thus its name, and is blended with brandy. It comes in a range of flavor profiles and colors, from a dark amber Tawny to a bright red Ruby to a deep purple Vintage wine. They’re often described as tasting of raisins, prunes, figs, oak, and caramelized sugar.
When you’re eating chocolate, a port is the way to go. All the experts pair their chocolate with port for good reason. Chocolate is a bold flavor that will overpower more delicate wines, so you need something that can meet it toe to toe. Different types of chocolate have their own tasting notes, often fruity, and the fruit of a port will bring that out wonderfully. A Fleur de Sel Chocolate Cake, or any smaller chocolate offering, is a perfect compliment, especially because the salted buttercream will amp up any flavor it comes into contact with because salt is a flavor enhancer.
Now you have three perfect wine and dessert pairings to impress everyone with at your next party! One more word of advice before you serve: don’t overdo the sugar. When pairing wine with dessert, it’s best to choose a wine that’s not quite as sweet as the treat you’re serving so you don’t overwhelm the taste buds.
Have you tried any of these wines? What desserts would you enjoy them with? Be sure to follow along to be notified about follow-ups in this Bar Series! Next up: Beer Pairings.