If you’ve downloaded our Great British Summertime App you’ll notice that along with the 105 recipes there are suggested wines to drink with each dish. Wine blogger Alex Down from The Riesling Revolutionary and founder of Revolution Wine Tasting carried out the wine matching for us and here he gives more advice on an often neglected topic, wines to drink with desserts.
Blog post by Alex Down from The Riesling Revolutionary for Great British Chefs
Being both a foodie and a wine lover, I am never shy to partake in a spot of food and wine matching. There is something about having the chance to take an already winning dish to the next level by complementing it with the right wine that just gets me excited.
For me, one of the most important things when it comes to food and wine matching is to have fun and be creative. There are, of course, certain general principles that can be followed (more on this below) but I find more often than not that trial and error is the best approach. And never be afraid to experiment with weird and wacky combinations – you would be surprised how often they come off!
One of my greatest challenges in this area came recently when Great British Chefs asked me to provide the wine descriptions for their latest App. For those of you who are not familiar with the Summertime App, it is a collection of 105 summer recipes from 21 of Britain’s top chefs. My task was to suggest a style of wine for each of the 105 recipes – effectively playing the role of an e-sommelier to dishes created by the likes of Marcus Wareing, Shaun Hill and Richard Corrigan. Needless to say, a lot of fun!
But one of most fun aspects of being involved with the Summertime App is that it contains loads of really creative and innovative dessert recipes which meant that I could showcase a number of sweeter styles of wines. Sweet wines, in my view, generally get a hard time of it here in the UK so I really enjoyed the opportunity to show just how diverse and impressive the world of sweet wine can be.
I accept, of course, that a sweet wine is not appropriate for every dish but a well-made dessert wine or sweet fortified wine can be just as much of a show stopper as any still or sparkling wine and should not be too hastily overlooked as a partner to a dessert or cheese dish.
The trick with pairing a sweet wine is to use it in one of two ways – either to complement the sweetness of the dish or to act as a contrast to it. But, as I say above, experimentation is the best way forward, so rather than harp on about the theory of what constitutes a winning pairing, here are my wine suggestions for a selection of desserts from the Summer App so that you can get an idea of why certain sweet wines go well with certain types of desserts.
Christoffer Hruskova’s Milk ice cream
Whilst this may not be the world’s most innovative dessert, we all love a good scoop of gelato so I thought it merited inclusion. A really great match for this dessert (and which would also work really well with vanilla ice cream) is a glass of unctuous and syrupy Pedro Ximenez Sherry from Spain. The sweetness of the Sherry would match the sweet dessert while its dark and sticky character would act as a wonderful contrast to the clean and pure flavour of the milk ice cream.
Shaun Hill’s Chocolate torte
For some reason, chocolate and wines from the Muscat family of grapes seem to have a special affinity for one another. It follows that a great wine choice for Shaun’s torte would be a Moscato D’Asti from the Piedmont region of Italy. This wine is made in a sweet and lightly sparkling style which would make it just the thing to freshen your palate between bites of this seriously chocolatey dessert.
Nathan Outlaw’s Chicory marmalade tart with blue cheese, picked walnuts and pears
This dish is a tricky one to pair as there are a lot of contrasting flavours at play – bittersweet chicory marmalade, sharp pickled nuts, salty blue cheese and the natural sweetness of the pears. My suggestion would be a vintage or tawny Port from Portugal. The sweetness of the Port would work really well with the sweeter elements of the dish whilst also cutting through the saltiness of the blue cheese and acidic pickled nuts. As I say above, it’s all about complement and contrast!
Richard Corrigan’s Passion fruit and mango parfait
Whenever I come across tropical fruits in a dessert, I think immediately of late harvest German Riesling. These wines are often only 6% or 7% in alcohol but are known for having a luscious, tropical fruit character and nectar-like sweetness, making them the perfect match for a dessert such as this.
Greg Malouf’s New Season Kent Strawberry Granita and Arabesque Wafer
This dessert provides the perfect opportunity to get creative with your wine match. Kent is now home to a number of England’s finest wineries so why not keep things local by pairing this dessert with a glass of strawberry purée topped up with an English sparking wine – my English take on a Strawberry Bellini!
Frances Atkins’s Rose Petal Pannacotta, Damson & Lavender Viennese Shortbread
The trick when pairing a wine for this dish is to find a wine that is sweet enough to sit happily alongside the pannacotta and shortbread whilst not overpowering the dessert’s floral qualities. I think that a Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (which is produced in the Rhone region of France) would be just the ticket. It is lusciously sweet but also has a delicate floral quality which would allow it to become great chums with the rose petal and lavender in this dish.
Hopefully this brief selection has given you a taste of just how much potential sweeter wines have to offer. They may not be seen as the most fashionable choice but if you have a sense of culinary adventure and enjoy playing around with exciting and innovative flavours, I would really urge you to give them a go!
You can find my recommendations for all the other dessert recipes in the Summer App by downloading it but in the meantime I would love to hear any suggestions from you as to your favourite dessert and wine pairings. Cheers!
Let us & Alex know your favourite dessert & wine pairings over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.