If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, then you know putting wine and bizarre foods on the same table is one of my favorite hobbies. Sometimes, it works beautifully and sometimes it doesn’t, but either way there’s learning (and plenty of laughs) along the way.
Recently, I contributed to Vivino’s Wine and Girl Scout Cookie Pairing and learned a lot–a lot about pairing sweet dessert items with non-dessert wines, that is.
Conventional wisdom and experience say that sweet desserts match best with sweet wines. Port with Chocolate instead of Pinot Noir, or Cake with Sauternes instead of Sauvignon Blanc, for example. In general, this is a great rule of thumb, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pair dessert with dry wine in a pinch, or if you just plain hate sweet wines.
The idea behind the traditional method of dessert pairing is that dry wines combined with sweet foods make both the food and wine fall flat–it’s the lose-lose of food pairings. But–as I was happy to discover–the pairings can be done without lose-lose every time.
Use the same guidelines that drive savory food and wine pairings, and success is practically guaranteed. By that I mean pair a decadent, fatty dessert (Peanut butter filled anything) with a rich wine that has tannins. Like in savory combinations, fat and tannin cancel each other out, leaving a successful pairing in their wake.
Fruity, sweet desserts with natural acidity (the tang of fresh strawberries, for example) need a high acid wine like Riesling or Chenin Blanc. Here, the acids balance each other, again leaving a happy aftertaste instead of bitterness and disappointment.
Don’t believe me? Try it out! (And Check out @Vivino for more wacky, yet practical food pairing advice from me!)