When it comes to perfectly pairing two of the greatest things in life – dessert and wine – the secret is to consider wine as an ingredient. Wine adds the ‘extra’ – it enhances tastes, creating an entirely new flavour profile. In general, as the colours of the dessert get darker, the wine gets darker. Take a look at these tasty pairings for an incredible end (or start) to a memorable evening.
The trick is to balance the bitterness of the chocolate with the sweetness of the wine
Wine pairing: Journey’s End V3 Shiraz 2017. Frankly, if you don’t have a dessert ready, a bottle of this shiraz can be perfect all on its own! With its expressive aromatic delivery of redcurrants and violets with white pepper and notes of dried coriander, this wine offers some sweetness without being too overpowering. Pairing chocolate mousse with it is like eating a chocolate-covered strawberry, but with more sparkle – think chocolate and lightning bolts of fruit and spice plus great natural acidity and a silky, long-lasting finish from the wine. It’s best drunk now and until 2029.
Why it works: The sweetness of the wine balances the bittersweet taste and the smooth, airy, almost foamy texture of the dessert, creating the perfect harmony between their contrasting tastes. The wafting sweet spice aromas in this shiraz also cut straight through the heavy creaminess in chocolate mousse, while adding sharp texture and notes of candied fruit and red flowers. We find that this wine works particularly well with rich, bitter dark chocolate mousse made with semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70% cacao.
Around R180 from your local bottle store
The trick is to create pairing harmony with just a touch of residual sugar
Wine pairing: Spier Méthode Cap Classique Brut 2017. With a fresh, clean nose, a balanced mouthfeel, good acidity and exuberant bubbles that culminate in a lively aftertaste, this is a crisp, mouth-puckering sparkler that adds notes of apples and biscuits. You can serve it with a full English or continental breakfast or enjoy it on its own as a festive welcome drink or toast. But what happens after you’ve exhausted the same old tired combinations? It’s time to get unique and add sparkling fireworks to strawberry shortcake – a creamy classic dessert.
Why it works: The best wine for strawberry shortcake is one that matches its sweetness levels. The acidic bite that comes from this MCC slices right through the shortcake and whipped cream in the strawberry-laden classic without overwhelming the delicate cake and rich cream that makes it so addictive. Fresh fruit contributes sweet and tart elements in the dessert and the notes tree fruit in the wine beautifully complement the fresh strawberry flavour. Plus, the wine adds a biscuity note that tastes incredible with this sweet treat’s already creamy ingredients.
Around R145 from your local bottle store
The trick is to match the sweet and the tart note for note
Wine pairing: Tokara Chardonnay 2018. The creamy addition of savoury oak tones from this wine to the bracing flavours in moist, sweet, buttery lemon cake loaded with fresh lemon is a truly complementary parallel. Many modern drinkers who’ve had one too many butter bombs – oaked chardonnays that are rich, full-bodied and have additional flavours of sweet vanilla, butter and even caramel from the oak – may find this pairing quite polarising and not appreciate this style. However, we think this layered, complex chardonnay’s versatility is one of its greatest strengths.
Why it works: The fresh pineapple, grapefruit and lime zest notes with a hint of brioche and toasted almonds in the wine bring out even more zip from the bright, fresh lemon flavour and deeply underlying lemon essence of the dessert. This chardonnay is clear and bright with a hint of green in colour, with a silky palate and a tangy finish from the fruit and acid combination. The buttery oak of the wine is also a natural companion to lemon cake fillings and frostings such as lemon, strawberry or almond buttercream, raspberry frosting, banana mousse and lemon curd.
Around R110 from your local bottle store
The trick is to ensure that the wine is just as sweet as the chocolate
Wine pairing: La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2018. While its sumptuous, full palate and refreshing character makes it a refreshing aperitif, the intricacy of this vintage brings sophistication and ensures versatility. This wine offers abundant gooseberry flavours, refreshing lemon and notes of tropical fruit with a creamy, well-rounded palate that lingers with a fresh acidity. Take a sip of it after a bite of buttery white chocolate and suddenly you’ll swear you’re tucking into a fruit cream mousse. It’s also perfect to pair with the creamy nuances of citrus-infused white chocolate.
Why it works: Although white chocolate isn’t technically a ‘true’ chocolate because it doesn’t contain cacao, this chocolate-like sweet is a shockingly good pairing with this sauvignon blanc – especially for chocolate and wine pairing disbelievers. The wine’s rich, fruity aromas and juicy finish take the understated balance of white chocolate and add a layer of fruit that doesn’t overpower, balancing the subtle sweetness with decadently fruity notes. Try it with a heavenly white chocolate dessert like white chocolate truffles, white chocolate mousse or white chocolate berry cheesecake.
Around R89 from your local bottle store