Wine and Dessert Pairings

June 29th, 2016 by Stephanie Michel

Dessert & Wine Recipes to TryI have always been fascinated by wine pairings. When I started culinary school, one of the first things I did was sign up for a Wine and Gastronomy class (and not just because the class went to France, although that didn’t hurt!). The fact that certain wines can enhance your food is, to me, just marvelous. So when given the chance to combine two of my favorite things- wine and dessert- I was thrilled.

When I started researching pairings, it was overwhelming. There is TONS of information out there! Luckily, I have a friend, Ryan Neth, who is a district manager for Summit Wine. I have been to wine tastings that his company has hosted and it clear that they know what they are talking about! There are so many wines out there, that it easily be imitating. So I asked him a few questions to make things easier.

What are some basic guidelines for wine and dessert pairing?

Usually you like to have your wine sweeter than your dessert, but it really is up to personal taste. I like a soft red with chocolate, like a pinot noir or a red blend or even the red sparkling goes fantastic. With fruits I like the late harvest Riesling. All desserts usually can’t go wrong with a nice Moscato D’Asti.

What are some common mistakes with wine pairing?

Generally it comes down to personal taste, if it’s what you enjoy it’s ok.  But some try and go with dessert wines with dessert.  I believe that a port or a sherry or even an ice wine are dessert themselves.  These should be drank on their own.  Port can be good with chocolate dishes.

What type of desserts typically pair well with red wines?

Chocolate is best for red wines, a smooth and/or spicy wine goes best.  Some of these red wines have chocolate notes that are highlighted with a chocolate dessert. Pinot Noirs, red blends, or a light shiraz are best.

What type of desserts typically pair well with white wines?

Usually all desserts go great with a white dessert wine.  Especially Moscato D’Asti

What exactly IS a dessert wine?

A dessert wine is a sweeter wine that pairs well with a dessert or even on its own. Technically there could be 6 categories of dessert wine:

Sparkling-  Spumantes, Moscato D’Asti, or Asti’s

Lightly Sweet – Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Chenion Blanc

Light Red Wines – Pinot Noir, Shiraz, red blends

Richly Sweet Wines – Late harvest Riesling, Ice Wine

Sweet Red Wines – Demi Sec Reds, Lambrusco, Brachetto d’Acqui

Fortified Wines – Port, Sherry, Maderia

Is it wise to pair a dessert wine with an actual dessert…or is that sweetness overload?

Absolutely, it should be sweeter than your dessert, unless you have a different preference.


With that information, I came up with a few Wilton recipes and wine pairings to try: Cupcake Black Forest wine with Wilton’s Flourless Chocolate Ganache Cake, Hogue Late Harvest Riesling with Wilton’s Cinnamon Apple Tart, and Ruffino Moscato D’Asti with Wilton’s Classic White Cake and Vanilla Swiss Buttcream. From there, I decided on the Cupcake Black Forest wine with Wilton’s Flourless Chocolate Ganache Cake because chocolate is my weakness.

The Cupcake Black Forest wine is a blend of all the best things in life- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Verdot, and Petite Sirah. Ryan recommended it with chocolate so I knew the rich, decadent flavor of the Flourless Chocolate Ganache Cake would be perfect! I followed the recipe below, bought a bottle of Cupcake Black Forest wine, and grabbed some friends! The combination of the wine and chocolate (and the good company) was PERFECT! The hints of blackberry and dark cherry from the wine complemented the fudgy chocolate taste and hints of coffee flavor from the cake.

I highly recommend trying a wine and dessert pairing! Experiment; find what suits your tastes best! You could even have a wine and dessert pairing party (which I am totally doing when I graduate culinary school in a few months!)! Or just try it out with a few friends and family. I am telling you; with wine and dessert you cannot go wrong!

Pin all this great info for easy reference!

Wine and Dessert Pairing Guidelines

Stephanie Michel Stephanie is an Assistant Culinary Specialist in the Wilton Test Kitchen and is a Certified Wilton Method® Instructor. Her love for baking began at an early age and she has enjoyed learning more about baking and cake decorating since she started working at Wilton in 2010. When she is not baking for her friends and family, she spends her free time with her dog, Checkers.

Leave a Reply

To prevent spam please solve the math problem below :