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Make The Right Dessert & Wine Pairings

by Courtney on December 15, 2011

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There’s no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On!

‘Tis the season for sweet treats and yummy cocktails, right? I know, I know…I feel like it’s a topic I’ve been bringing up incessantly for the past couple of weeks. But today, we’re going to switch things up a bit. Rather than talking about how to keep them at bay or try to avoid them, tonight…we’re going to embrace them!

Now I’m no wine-o. I love drinking it, but I hardly know much about it. I wish I did; that way, I could look a little less like a scatterbrain every time I walk into a wine & liquor store.

So I started doing a little investigating to see how to best pair certain wines with my all-time favorite course: dessert.

First, I found out that there are three factors to consider when choosing a wine:

  • acidity (an acidic wine may pair best with a fruit dish, which also has natural acidity)
  • intensity (the more intense the dessert, the more intense the wine)
  • sweetness (a dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert itself)

I also found out the general rule that as the colors of the dessert get darker, the wine gets darker. This actually made total sense, since this is one of the things that I learned last year when Jay and I attended a wine and chocolate pairing. (<– Best thing EVER).

So most desserts will usually fall into one of three categories (I know there are more, but for the sake of keeping things simple here, we’re stickin’ with three):

  1. Custard & Vanilla
  2. Fruit & Spice
  3. Chocolate & Caramel
Below, you’ll see some ideas on wines that will pair best with each of these categories…

Custard and Vanilla


  • Flavors (in the wine and dessert) are usually mild, light, and buttery.
  • Suggested Wine Pairings: White wines (such as my beloved Riesling), sparkling wines (like champagne), and Asti Spumanti (a sparkling white, Italian wine).

Fruit and Spice

Apple Crisp, anyone?

  • Flavors (in the wine and dessert) are usually something such as apples, pears, and cinnamon.
  • Suggested Wine Pairings: Pink champagne, white wines, such as Sauternes (a French sweet wine) or a late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.

Chocolates & Caramels


Ahhhh, my favorite – Oreo Truffles!

  • Flavors (in the wine and dessert) would be dark, buttery, caramelized, and rich.
  • Suggested Wine Pairings: Red wines (like late-harvest Pinot Noir or Shiraz), port wines (a classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa (which I learned is an alcoholic, grape-based brandy – who knew?!).

So now, maybe you’ve learned a little bit more about pairing wines with desserts like I did? Or maybe this is old news for ya? Either way, I don’t know about you, but now I am craving some chocolate and a glass of wine like it’s nobody’s business!

Question for the Evening:

Do you know much about wine and how to best pair it with certain foods?

If so, feel free to weigh in (and/or let me know if I was totally off the mark on anything). ;)

Remember to check out Duncan Hines’ website to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kasey December 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm

these pictures look amazing! I looove me some wine <3 especially paired with the right match ;]
Kasey recently posted..2 BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS


2 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn December 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I love learning about wine pairings, and you are spot on! I did an article for Baked Magazine about Finger Lakes Wine Tours, and hearing about the flavors, tones, and process are so interesting.
Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn recently posted..Let Your Light Shine.


3 Val December 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Loved reading this! I really don’t know much about wine, except that I love drinking it. I wish I knew more about wine pairings though. This was a great little post! I’ll defs be pairing a pink champagne with my next apple crisp :) yum!
Val recently posted..Homemade Hot Chocolate on a Stick


4 erica December 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm

i’m with you, i totally love reisling!
i know nothing about wine pairings…i have a hard enough time figuring what to order, i usually leave it up to my friends who know more than me!
erica recently posted..lunch bunch


5 Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles December 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I got to learn a whole lot about wine when I went to Sonoma & Napa this summer! LOVED it. I think the most important thing is that everyone has different tastes and to not be afraid to explore and go outside of the box!
Your pairings sound delicious!
Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles recently posted..It’s the final countdown!


6 Lauren December 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

There is NOTHING like eating a really good piece of dark chocolate and taking a sip of an indulgent smooth porto or zin. It’s an unbelievable experience.
Lauren recently posted..Are You Nuts About Granola? {GRANOLA GIVEAWAY}


7 Khushboo December 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Nothing to add in except that I forecast wine in my near future :)
Khushboo recently posted..No whey!


8 Lauren @ Chocolate, Cheese and Wine December 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I’m not typically a fan of sweet wines – but I do love Moscato.
Lauren @ Chocolate, Cheese and Wine recently posted..Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Bars


9 Nicole December 16, 2011 at 9:10 am

Love this post! What could be better than talking about wine and dessert?

My father-in-law works for an Italian wine company, so he is always telling us about the best pairings, how to pick up on various scents and undertones, and how to know when wine has gone bad (which, in my opinion, unless it has gone to vinegar, it’s perfectly fine!)…

But even with all of those tips and tricks, I find that with wine, the more you drink it, the more you come to realize what goes with what, and what brings out the flavor of whatever you’re pairing it with. It’s kind of becomes second-nature after a while!


10 Shannon December 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I never knew that wines could be paired with specific types of desserts. Thank you for teaching me some specifics on this!


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