Sweet Wines Make the Best Partners!

Recently I gave a live virtual tasting session on sweet and fortified wines: what they are and how they are made. We had some questions around food pairings relative to sweet & fortified wines so I wanted to share my thoughts with you here. If you'd like to attend a tasting with me, see the bookings link on my site! 

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Pairing Guidelines

When it comes to pairing wine with food you have to consider that the food has more effect on the wine than the reverse. Next when we're talking about sweet wines, it's worth mentioning another rule of thumb: your wine should be at least as sweet as your food. Sweet foods make the wines seem less sweet and fruity, more tannic and harsh and acidic. Hence pair a dessert with a sweeter wine. The reverse is not true though! You can enjoy a savory dish with your sweet wine, In fact, I think you should!

Savory Dishes with Sweet Wines

Please consider these wonderful sweet wine pairing suggestions for your savory dishes... 

  1. SPICY foods intensify the burning sensation of alcohol so spicy dishes are really nice with low alcohol sweet wines. The viscosity of a sweet wine also helps to coat your palat and keep the burning sensation at bay. Think spicy pad Thai with a sweet riesling or ice wine.

  2. UMAMI foods make wines seem more bitter, acidic, tannic and less fruity, so you need something to counterbalance that. Hence I love a sweet ruby port with sautéed mushrooms and steak.

  3. SALTY and ACIDIC foods do pair well with many wines as wines generally seem sweeter, fruitier and less dry when enjoyed with salty or acidic foods. For that reason I'd go with a wine at least as intensely acidic as the food so neither makes the other seem "flabby". I think salt & vinegar potato chips with a dry sherry could work really well. My mouth is watering already and I don't even like dry sherry (yet).

  4. FATTY & OILY foods make wine seem less acidic so I love love love fried foods with a dry acidic sparkling wine like champagne (albeit not all are sweet). Another great choice is a Moscato d’Asti or Prosecco with a bit more sweetness to it. I would avoid less acidic wines (like aged wines) with fatty foods though as the wines will fall flat on the palate with the fried foods. For the sweet wine category I think ice wine or late harvest Gewurztraminer would be nice. Blue cheese in the dish - try a Sauternes.

  5. BITTER foods intensify the bitter flavors of your wine, so best not paired with bitter wines (the tannins in some red wines cause them to be bitter) - sweet white wines again FTW! 🥰


The great thing about sweet wines are that they can pair so well with foods that typically aren't easy to pair like Umami, Bitter and Spicy foods. Try drinking more sweet wines with your dinners and see what I mean. Happy pairing! 🤗🍷

1 comment

  • Hi,

    Do you have any recommendations for wineries with good dessert wines in the Napa/Sonoma area?

    Thanks in advance!


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