It’s no secret that I love food and wine, but even I have to admit that sometimes the wine you drink with dinner may not be the same wine that you want to keep drinking when it comes time for dessert.
Generally, it’s not a bad idea to follow the rule: the darker the dessert the darker the wine. If you don’t feel secure with a rule that is so non-specific, there are a few other taste guidelines according to the different dessert types:
- Custard and Vanilla
- Fruit and Spice
- Caramels and Chocolate
Custard and Vanilla
When your dessert is based around the light, mild, buttery flavors found in most custard based desserts you want your wines to have the same basic flavor profiles. So, if you are serving a vanilla custard, pudding, flan, crème brûlée, tart or pie, you’ll want to serve a white wine like a late-harvest Riesling, or a sparkling wine like an Asti Spumanti or demi-sec Champagne. This Vanilla Crème Brûlée from The New York Times is #FastAndEasy and needs only 5 ingredients!
Vanilla Crème Brûlée
- 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar, more for topping
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)
In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.
When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.
Most crème brûlée recipes need a torch, but this one is simpler & safer: it uses your oven’s broiler to get the crackly top.
**TIP: Make sure the custard sets for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top so you don’t end up with soupy custard.
Fruit and Spice
When your dessert is fruit based with a spicy profile, like those with apple, pear, pumpkin or cinnamon in them, you’ll want to lean toward white wines that have more character to them. In this case you’ll want to consider Pink or Rosé Champagne, Sauternes, or late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.
Caramels and Chocolates
When your dessert is rich and full of any of the flavors across the chocolate spectrum (except white chocolate) or has the gooey richness of caramel’s toffee goodness, then the wines you’re looking for will be Red. Late-harvest Pinot Noir, Banyuls, Grenache, Australian Shiraz, Port (the classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa all are excellent pairings for these rich dessert choices. #ThisGirlLovesToEat