10 Wines You Need To Pair With Holiday Desserts
What wines do I pair with these holiday desserts?
Holiday desserts are already delicious, but pair them with the right wine and they can be spectacular! Maybe your family finishes off the bottle you had with dinner, regardless of what it is. If you’re like my family, then coffee is your go-to dessert pairing. But why don’t you try a proper pairing this year? Not only will you impress your guests with your pairing skills, but you may find that your dessert tastes just a little bit better than you remember. Plus, you can never have enough wine, so bringing extra to the party is always a plus!
Below I’ve created 10 of my favorite pairings for you to try with your holiday desserts. Maybe you’ve had some of these wines before, or maybe you haven’t. I’d encourage you to try a small glass before you dig into your sweets so you can make note of the flavors and aromas of the wine, and see if you can pick up on aspects that may be similar to your dessert. When you’ve finished, pour yourself another and dig in! Be sure to try both the wine and dessert by themselves, then try taking a sip and bite at the same time. Most importantly, be sure to leave room for seconds!
Crème Brûlée & Champagne
The smooth, creamy texture of a crème brûlée needs more texture than just the crispy burnt sugar crust on top – so try some bubbles! This rich dessert deserves the real deal here, but you can try some budget sparkling varieties from other regions that are made in the Champagne style. Look for a bottle with notes of butter and caramel, that possesses a creamy mousse (as opposed to a drier style with bread-like flavors).
Pumpkin Pie & Riesling
Pumpkin is a classic holiday flavor, and you can bake this into pretty much any kind of dessert – pies, cakes, muffins, breads, cheesecakes, cookies, whoopie pies, truffles, the list goes on! Whatever you end up doing with your pumpkin, try pairing it with a Riesling. The crisp acidity of this wine cuts through all the richness of your pumpkin dessert, while the sweet fruit flavors mingle with the delicious brown baking spices. Extra points if you can find a late harvest Riesling – this is a denser, sweeter expression of the wine and will elevate your dessert to new heights!
Apple Crisp & Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer gets its name from the German word for spice, “gewürz”. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this aromatic white wine variety has spice notes that would pair naturally well with fall and winter flavors. You could certainly try this with pumpkin, but with all the tropical fruit aspects going on, apple is a more suitable option.
Sugar Cookies & Moscato
A sweet cookie needs a sweet wine! The simple flavors of this favorite holiday cookie are begging for a bright, clean wine that also shares its sugar content. Moscato, like these cookies, are always a party favorite, and easy to please all your holiday guests.
Gingerbread & Sauternes
This sweet dessert wine from France would make an excellent pairing for gingerbread desserts. The rich honey, floral and stone fruit notes of this wine contrast beautifully with all of the warm spices going on in your cookies and cakes. This pairing would work especially well with frosted gingersnap cookies, too!
Cranberry Bliss Bars & Pinot Noir
One of my favorite things about the holidays is when Starbucks comes out with their famous Cranberry Bliss Bars. There are tons of copycat recipes floating around that you can make them at home, which means why not enjoy them with wine? Look for a light to medium bodied Pinot Noir with bright acidity and red fruit flavors to complement the sweet cranberry.
Pecan Pie & Madeira
The classic dark, roasted flavors of pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon in this pie would pair wonderfully with any fortified dessert wine – Port, Sherry or Madeira. But unlike the first two, Madeira is unique in that it is exposed to heat and oxygen, which gives a burnt sugar quality similar to that slice of pie you just cut. If your sweet tooth can handle it, give this pairing a shot!
Poached Pears & Merlot
Why not cook your dessert in the wine you’re going to be pairing it with? Pears can be poached in white or red wine, but using a red will make your dessert extra festive. Any dry red will work, but try it once with Merlot. The tannins are soft, and the flavors of earthy fruit and mocha will make this dessert extra indulgent.
Chocolate Cream Pie & Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Chocolate cream pie is a staple at my family’s house every holiday because it is my dad’s favorite. But this pie has to be made from scratch, because instant pudding just doesn’t have the same decadence. The same should go for your wine – find yourself a big, bold Napa Can with deep fruit flavors complementary to the chocolate. Your taste buds will thank you!
Sticky Toffee Pudding & Port
Sticky toffee pudding may be a British thing, but who can resist a dessert that’s slathered in, well, sticky toffee? The nutty, caramel and dried fruit flavors in this dessert are begging to be matched with Port, a fortified wine that was made for this pairing.
What are your favorite holiday desserts? Do you have your own wine pairings for them? Comment below!