Most wine is made in a “dry” style, which means that there is little or no residual sugar leftover after the winemaking process. One of the beautiful things about wine is its diversity, however, so never forget that there are some wonderful sweet wines out there, too!
Regions like Sauternes and Barsac in France and Tokaj in Hungary produce some absolutely outstanding examples. There are many fine examples of sweet Port and Sherry. Lots of excellent Riesling and Gewürtztraminer from Germany, Austria and the New World are produced in semi or fully sweet styles. Italian Moscato d’Asti and numerous designations of Champagne and Cava offer sparkling examples. Sweet wines are pretty sweet, all in all. Yet, they remain something of a niche product, and we can think of one big reason why:
Sweet wine can be tricky when it comes to food pairing.
That need not be the case, however. Follow our instructions here and see for yourself just how versatile and food friendly your favourite sweet wines can be.
Sweet wine with sweet food
This one is pretty straightforward: Match the sweetness of the wine with the sweetness of the dish. Take a seriously sweet wine like Château d’Yquem 2006, serve it with a luscious sweet dessert and experience true decadence. A sweet tart or pastry will be a wonderful food match for this delicious wine, but why not get creative:
- Tokaji wine with Strawberry cheesecake
- Sauternes wine with Crème Brûlée
- Barsac wine with Candied apple
- Sweet Sherry wine with Honey
To read more about the legendary Sauternes of Château d’Yquem, visit the official website here.
Sweet wine with spicy food
Sweet and spicy works surprisingly well. Asian cuisine with chili peppers and other hot spices is really great with a lush sweet wine. The sweetness and spiciness provide an interesting counterpoint and the result is something truly unique in your mouth. Try a lighter-alcohol sweet or off-dry Gewürtztraminer or Riesling with your next Chinese or Indian style dish and see for yourself. The subtle sweetness of Vina Esmerelda from Miguel Torres will give you an idea of this food and wine pairing if you are afraid to go for a fully sweet Sauternes or Tokaji!
Sweet wine with salty food
Two sides of the same coin, sweetness and saltiness contrast well and can make for some very interesting food pairings. While we’re on the subject of contrasts: You don’t always have to serve fine wine with fine food. Try a fancy Sauternes like Château Suduiraut 2006 with something a little more everyday like a salty pretzel, breaded chicken or tortillas – even popcorn!
Sweet wine with…whatever food you want
At the end of the day, wine tasting is subjective. Wine and food pairing is even more so. Just because we suggest a particular pairing for your sweet wine, that doesn’t always mean that it’ll be the right pairing for you. Wine and food pairing is beautiful, never be afraid to experiment and never be afraid to ignore recommendations like these and decide for yourself!
Read more about sweet wine pairings from WineFolly here.
Learn about pairing food with pizza here.