8 Best Dessert Wines and Food Pairing Ideas

8 Best Dessert Wines and Food Pairing Ideas

Dessert wines are an excellent way to enhance your dessert after a meal. Pairing the right type of dessert with the right type of wine is a great way to magnify the flavors in both the dessert and the wine. The best dessert wines are naturally sweeter than what you would expect from a traditional wine flavor.

Check out the following 8 best dessert wines and the different foods that they pair well with!

1. Ice Wines

Ice wines are one of the best dessert wines that goes well with almost any meal. This wine is created from grapes that are left outside long enough to freeze as the temperatures drop after harvest. Freezing the grapes makes it easier to remove the water content as it’s transformed into ice which makes it easy to create a very sweet wine.

This is a wine that only expert winemakers are capable of creating. The harvesting of the grapes is susceptible to the weather, rot and hungry animals. Because of these factors, the yield of grapes for ice wine is low which makes true ice wine rare and expensive. Ice wines are intense and crisp. They pair perfectly with hazelnut and caramel flavors as well as fresh and baked fruit.

2. Dried Grape Wine

Dried grape wine is made from grapes that have had all the water evaporated out them. What’s left behind is the sweet natural sugar which allows for a delicious dessert wine. With this type of wine, the grapes are dried while they’re still on the vine. Dried grape wine has flavors that resemble honey, candied fruits, and natural spices.

Another way dried grape wine is made is by letting the grapes dry out on a straw mat. This is the best dessert wines for any desserts that are based on candied fruits, such as fruit cakes.

3. Noble Rot Wines

Although the name doesn’t sound delicious, noble rot wines are among the most wanted dessert wines in the world. Rot wines are made from grapes that are rotten and covered in a natural fungus. The fungus, called Botrytis Cinerea, causes the grape to shrivel up which gets rid of most of the water and leave behind a sweet pulp.

Making noble rot wines is a painstaking process as each grape doesn’t have much liquid after the fungus has taken over. These are the best dessert wines that work well with caramel, cheesecakes, brownies and many different types of cheese, which makes them among the best dessert wines.

4. Lightly Sweet Dessert Wines

Lightly sweet dessert wines are known for their aromatic intensity without the sweetness of other dessert wines which can be overbearing for some. Light sweet dessert wines are highly flavored and are able to balance out the sweetness with crisp acidity. Lightly sweet dessert wines are great with red or white cheesecake, fruit, and mild blue cheese.

5. Aromatized Dessert Wines

Aromatized dessert wines are made by combining different wines with liqueurs, juices, herbs, and spices. By definition, aromatized dessert wines must be at least 75% wine, but there are no regulations on what spices and aromas you can use to flavor the wine.

Many popular aromatized wines are a blend of sparkling and fortified wine with brandy and sweetened with sugar or honey. Sweet vermouth is one of the most popular aromatized wines, especially for gifts. These types of wines are often used in cocktail recipes for flavor.

6. Fortified Dessert Wines

Fortified wines are made using traditional fermentation techniques, but winemakers add alcohol during some point of the production to fortify the wine. Adding in the extra alcohol can be done either during the fermentation or after the wine is done fermenting.

The high concentration of alcohol deactivates the yeast in the wine which leaves you with just sweet flavors. Fortified wine usually has an alcohol concentration between 15%-22%. Because fortified wines can be both sweet or dry, they pair well with different types of cheese.

7. Sparkling Sweet Dessert Wines

Pairing dessert with sparkling wine is a classic move that people still enjoy today. When it comes to sparkling wines for dessert pairings, you want to avoid traditional choices like Champagne and Prosecco. Instead, sweet dessert wines such as Asti Spumante and Brachetto d’Acqui are delicious sparkling dessert wines that work well with a medley of different desserts. Sparkling sweet wines are commonly made from aromatic grapes such as Moscato.

8. Sweet Red Wine

Sweet red wines are still a great option for pairing with dessert although they have begun to decline in popularity recently. Most red wines are dry, but sweet reds are perfect for desserts thanks to how the grapes are harvested. If you want a really sweet wine look for a wine in the 8 to 11% alcohol range.

Higher levels of alcohol contribute to making the wine dry. Sweet red wines are excellent with fruits and chocolate. Desserts with red fruit fillings (raspberries, strawberries, cranberries) and jam or cream fillings are also excellent pairings with sweet red wines.


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