Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wine Pairings for Desserts from the Heart


I knew I wanted to do a post on pairing wine with Valentine's desserts but I was debating on what types of sweets to focus on. I remember the time when my husband decided to surprise me by baking cookies and how blown away I was by this gesture - so romantic! First of all, Charles' culinary repertoire includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal and he makes really good coffee so you can understand why the cookies were a such a big deal to me. He could have gone out and purchased a fancy pastry but it would not have been nearly as special and touching. I figure there are other culinary challenged people like Charles out there who want to surprise their sweetie with an easy to make homemade desserts so I figure why not offer some wine recommendations to go with them.

For the mixes, I'm recommending the The Barefoot Contessa line by Ina Garten. Her cookbooks are fool proof and her ready to go dessert mixes come in quite handy when I don't have the time to make desserts from scratch. The mixes come with easy to make instructions - even Charles can do it and the desserts don't have that "made from a box" taste that not even Sandra Lee can fix. I have found the Barefoot Contessa line at Fox & Obel, Whole Foods and Sur La Table but of course you can always just go with your favorite supermarket brand.

Angel Food Cake Served with Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries

Serve with Saracco Moscato d'Asti from Italy $14.
This is a slightly sparkling white dessert wine, low in alcohol with fresh flavors of apricots, peaches and honey. It's nice and light so it won't overwhelm the airy cake. It has bubbles so you would serve it in a Champagne flute, making it extra romantic.

Lemon Bars Served with Whipped Cream and Fresh Blueberries

Caravella Limoncello $18
The lemon lover in your life will get double the dose of lemony action with this lemon flavored sweet liqueur. Serve the limoncello nice and cold in a small dessert wine glass or Champagne flute.

Chocolate Ganache Cake served with Fresh Raspberries

Marenco Brachetto d'Acqui $23
Brachetto is a red grape and the dessert wine made from it is similar to Moscato in style, slightly sparkling but a vibrant red in color with flavors of red raspberries and strawberries. Pairing it with chocolate is like serving chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce. You can also use this dessert wine with chocolate cupcakes, molten lava cakes and chocolate layer cake.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alvear Asuncion Oloroso Sherry $24

Drop the milk - this is not your grandma's Sherry! This Oloroso sherry is sweet with an almost nutty flavor that is a wonderful match with the buttery crumbly cookie part while the raisin, walnut notes play well with the chocolate chips. A fun pairing worth seeking out! You could also pair this with oatmeal raisin cookies.

Vanilla Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Alois Kracher Chardonnay Trockenbeerenauslese No 2 $34
This wine is barrel fermented so there are notes of vanilla, spices and coconuts along with flavors of apricots, honey and candied citrus that will play well with the vanilla flavor in the cake.
If you can't find this then ask your retailer for another Kracher product - they are all stunning and well worth the price. The Barefoot line also offer a coconut cupcake. I've only made the from scratch recipe and it is heaven covered in frosting.

Chocolate Brownies

Rosenblum Desiree Chocolate Port $16

Chocoholics can take it all the way with brownies paired with this sweet, Port inspired blend of Zinfandel and two native Portuguese grapes infused with real chocolate. And if nothing else, the name will certainly get your point across on V-Day.

Almond Biscotti with Vin Santo Dessert Wine

Fattoria Felsina Vin Santo $35
If you don't want to bake then you can always do this classic and delicious pairing. Vin Santo is a slightly sweet dessert wine from Italy and it has an almond like flavor which makes it perfect with Almond Biscotti. The custom is to dunk the rock hard cookies into the wine before eating them. Very simple and very good!


  1. You are absolutely right, you can't go wrong with Ina. As far as sweets go, her banana crunch muffins, salted caramels, and chocolate brownies are to die for. For this Valentine's Day I am treating myself to A Mano's homemade gelato. I think it is the best in the city and you can get it to go too. Thanks for the great wine tips. The Marenco stands out to me, and I think I'll try it this weekend.

  2. I. LOVE!. Ina Garten. So much that when I met her a few years ago, I made a complete and total fool of myself. Thanks for these great pairings - what a fantastic idea (and obviously, you have great taste in dessert)! ;)