Any wine lover can tell you just how much the right variety can truly elevate a meal. From charcuterie to pasta, the chosen wine has the ability to turn any dish into a memorable experience. But what about post-meal pairings? Fresh strawberries and sparkling Champagne are an iconic duo when it comes to dessert, but there is certainly much more to explore when it comes to wine pairings for sweet treats.
We asked 10 winemakers about their go-to wine and dessert pairings. Here’s what they said.
The best wine and dessert pairings, according to winemakers:
- Chardonnay and crème brûlée
- Dry Malvasia Bianca and gulab jamun
- Garnacha and cream cheese mousse with cookie pie crust and blueberries
- Oloroso sherry and bodega with pastéis de nata egg
- Riesling ice wine and blue cheese
- Napa Valley late harvest wine and pear and almond tart
- Chardonnay and lemon pie
- Malbec and chocolate mousse
- Cabernet Sauvignon and red velvet cake
- Late-harvest Cabernet Sauvignon and lava cake
- Charmat-style sparkling Chenin Blanc and key lime pie
“Crème brûlée and Chardonnay: Pour up a buttery Chardonnay the next time crème brûlée is on the menu. The creaminess in the wine pairs great with the custard in the dessert. The non-sweet wine will offer some balance to the caramelized sugar topping.” —Tim Carron, winemaker, The Infinite Monkey Theorem, Denver
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“Dry Malvasia Bianca that has a nice tropical/citrus note with gulab jamun. Gulab jamun is an Indian dessert consisting of fried dough soaked in syrup infused with rose water, cardamom, saffron, and other spices. We like to add in a citrus element like orange zest or oil to pair it with Malvasia Bianca. The tropical notes of lychee and guava in Malvasia Bianca play beautifully alongside a bowl of gulab jamun!” —Nikhila Narra Davis, owner and winemaker, Kalasi Cellars, Fredericksburg, Texas
“Garnacha and cream cheese mousse on a cookie pie crust and blueberries. The red and black berries that are highly present in this garnacha can also be enjoyed in this delicious dessert. Also, the cream cheese softens the wine’s mouthfeel, enticing you to take another sip. It would also pair well with a flavorful dessert, like tiramisu. I think it’s perfect for its creaminess and delicious chocolate flavor, both of which add a bit of sweetness, but at the same time the hints of bitterness provided by the coffee in this dessert give it a distinctive touch, making it a surprisingly complex pairing.” —Isabel Galindo, winemaker, Las Moradas de San Martín, Madrid, Spain
“Oloroso sherry paired with a Portuguese-style pastéis de nata egg custard tart. The heat and sweetness of the wine, with its fruity aromatic profile and nutty finish, are highlighted well with the richness of the egg custard tart in addition to the creamy vanilla and buttery flavors.” —Patric Matysiewski, co-founder and winemaker, Sauvage Spectrum, Palisade, Colo.
“Riesling ice wine and blue cheese. Coming from Germany, I actually don’t really like blue cheese, but I was pushed into trying it when I was presenting our 2019 Riesling ice wine to a liquor store owner. The pairing really blew me away. The ice wine cut the ‘funkiness’ out of the blue cheese and really made it so enjoyable.” —Hans Peter Weis, owner and winemaker, Weis Vineyards, Hammondsport, N.Y.
“My favorite dessert and wine pairing is one that I find myself returning to again and again. Napa Valley late-harvest wine paired with a pear and almond tart with vanilla caramel and heirloom apple is truly unmatched. Each vintage of late-harvest wines brings specific nuances from the year, ranging from lemon bars to marmalade, tropical to stone fruit — aiding in the versatility of pairing and ultimate enjoyment until the last sip and spoonful.” —Greg Allen, winemaker, Dolce Winery, Oakville, Calif.
“Chardonnay with lemon pie. The perfect aromatic harmony of citric hints, fresh, crisp aromas and a juicy mouthfeel.” —Jesús Artajona, winemaker, ENATE, Somontano, Spain
“Malbec and chocolate mousse.” —Kyle Thompson, winemaker, Saint Clair Family Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand
“Cabernet Sauvignon and a slice of decadent red velvet cake.” —Maggie Kruse, head winemaker, Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Healdsburg, Calif.
“Lava cake with late-harvest Cabernet Sauvignon.” —Craig Larson, winemaker, Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Temecula, Calif.
“My go-to dessert wine pairing is Charmat-style sparkling Chenin Blanc paired with my wife’s restaurant La Diosa’s key lime pie. The creamy texture of the key lime pie is rounded off by the bruised apple honey flavors of the Chenin Blanc.” —Kim McPherson, winemaker, McPherson Cellars, Lubbock, Texas