Choosing an Italian Dessert Wine – The Tips

You’ve enjoyed an enormous meal and you’re sure that you couldn’t possibly eat another bite. Your belly is full and you’ve even left some of your food on the plate. You simply cannot eat anymore…

And then dessert comes out.

All of a sudden, you seem to find some reserve of space just for the sweet treat. It’s almost like you have another stomach, one that’s specially made for dessert even when your normal stomach feels full.

There’s just one question.

How do you choose an Italian wine to go along with this sultry sweet dish?

That’s the question we aim to answer with this article as we offer some key tips that will help you to choose an Italian dessert wine.

Tip #1 – Understand the Types of Dessert Wine

We can roughly break dessert wines down into five key types, each of which has its own properties and works well with certain types of desserts.

These five types are as follows:

  • Sparkling Dessert Wine
  • Lightly Sweet Wines
  • Richly Sweet Wines
  • Fortified Wines
  • Sweet Red Italian Wines

Sparkling wines tend to have more reserved flavours, making them ideal for tempering especially rich desserts. Sweeter wines may be used to add a touch of, well, sweetness, to a dessert that has more complex flavours. And fortified wines are often treated like desserts on their own, thanks to their higher alcohol volume and the fact that they’re very concentrated.

Finally, note that these are rough categories. 

Tip #2 – Complement the Dessert With the Wine

Are you having a stodgy slice of cake for dessert? If so, combining that cake with a thick and sweet wine, such as a fortified wine, may not be the best choice. The richness of the wine will clash with the richness of the cake. What’s more, you may find the thickness of the wine makes it difficult to stomach with the cake.

In this case, a lighter sparkling wine may be the better option.

However, a light dessert is often best combined with a slightly heavier wine, as this lends the dessert a little extra weight, almost grounding it as you eat.

The point?

Don’t just select a dessert wine at random.

Pay close attention to the properties of your dessert, both in terms of its taste and how it feels to eat, so you can choose an Italian dessert wine that suits the meal. 

As a final note, it’s also a good idea to ensure your dessert complements the meal you’ve just enjoyed. For example, if you’ve eaten a particularly heavy meal, you will likely find that you enjoy a lighter dessert more than something like a thick slice of cake. If the meal was fairly light, a more substantial dessert may be in order. Of course, you will make your wine selections based on the dessert, with the dessert choice based on what you had for the meal.

Tip #3 – Consider the Noble Rot

You may have heard of a wine called Sauternes.

It’s made using grapes infected by a condition called “noble rot”, which results in the creation of a fungus that intensifies the strength of the sugars inside the grape. The end result is a wine that’s so sweet you can practically classify it as a dessert in its own right.

But here’s the thing…

The wine is so sweet that we don’t recommend combining it with traditional dessert foods. The odds are high that it will just overwhelm the sweetness of the dessert, leading to an unbalanced tasting experience. Instead, combine Sauternes with something a little more savoury, such as Roquefort cheese. That’s how you get the most out of this particular type of wine.

Tip #4 – Fillings Make a Difference

If a dessert has a filling, you have a more complex situation on your hands. Now, you have to find a wine that combines well with both the dessert and whatever has filled it. For example, a slice of cake may have a thick jam and cream filling, which adds sweetness and additional textures that your chosen wine may not account for.

Let’s take a look at some potential fillings and the wines that tend to complement them.

Anything with a jam or cream filling pairs well with a softly sweet wine. This allows the taste of the filling to take the lead, with the wine giving that taste a boost rather than overwhelming it.

The fresh fruit filling you may find in some pies is best complemented with a sweet white wine. Make sure the wine is both intense and fruity itself, to match the strength of the fruit filling.

With a red fruit filling, aim for a fragrant red wine. A sweet Italian red works well with anything that has strawberry, raspberry, or cranberry filling.

And finally, anything that has a white fruit filling, such as pear or apples, will pair well with a sparkling white wine.

It’s often the filling that brings the most intense flavour to the table with a dessert. Make sure that you account for yours when making your Italian wine choice.

Tip #5 – Don’t Get Too Tied Up in Wine Definitions

Some people will tell you that a dessert wine has to be sweet. Others may argue that good dessert wines enhance the sweetness of the dessert, rather than being extremely noticeable themselves.

But in reality, the best dessert wine will always be the wine that you enjoy most with your food. If you like an odd combination, don’t worry about it! Enjoy the wine you’ve chosen because it suits your tastes.

The Final Word

A good dessert wine brings out the best in the food that you’re eating.

Your choice comes down to the specific type of dessert you’re preparing to enjoy. As long as you take your time and choose a wine that complements the food, you’re sure to have a great experience. 

And of course, you will find practically any dessert wine you can think of in the Xtrawine store.


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