Sweet Kind of Summer: What Sweet Wines Go With
Summer is the time for sweet wines, and as you begin to explore this option, you may wonder what sweet wines go with so you can put together the perfect menu. Fortunately, sweet wine pairings are easier than you think.
Wait, What is Sweet Wine?
Essentially a sweet wine is any wine that keeps higher levels of sugar as the process moves forward. Since the grapes themselves have natural sugars, the actual process of making the wine helps to decide just how sweet it will be. But there is a marked variation in the degree of sweetness of wines- some are bone dry and others are obviously sweet. In the past, many wine drinkers preferred less sweet wines, but today, there is a large demographic of wine drinkers who prefer something much sweeter. Fortunately, there are many wine sweetness charts for consumers to browse to help them make a decision. The easiest way to decide how sweet a wine might be, though, is to read the label on the wine bottle. If the label indicates 10g/L of residual sugar, the wine is dry. Noticeable sweet wines start at around 35g/L of residual sugar and go up.
Sweet Wine Pairings - A Few Rules
Not sure how to pair sweet wines and food? There are a few rules to consider when deciding what sweet wines go with. The general rule is that, while sweet wines go with sweet foods, the wine should be sweeter than the food. You’ll want to work to create balance no matter what pairing you decide to create. The level of acidity matters as you work to create the perfect pairing of what sweet wines go with. Great sweet wines go with tart foods since the wines will have just the right amount of acidity, which can help stand up to tart foods or cut the rich nature of some foods.
Keep in mind that the sugar in sweet wines can increase the intensity of flavors, so only select foods that are highly flavorful and well seasoned or your wine selection will numb the taste of the food.
So, what do sweet wines go with? Here are a few options.
- Sweet wines and salty foods pair well together. Salty foods include potato chips, french fries, pretzels, pizza, sausages, nuts, etc; these salty foods taste a lot better with sweet wines.
- For light summer snacks or meals, go with light to medium intensity white/red wines. A cheese platter with salted crackers and smoked meat would be a wonderful pairing with almost any sweet red wine.
- Spicy and curried foods work well with chilled sweet white/red wines that have low alcohol content. Spicy Thai noodles are a great choice.
- Sour foods like citrus fruits and vinegar-based sauces pair well with sweet white/red wines with high acidity. Riesling is excellent at countering the sourness in kimchi.
- Sweet red wines complement a wide range of food including roast chicken, meat, pork, rich seafood dishes, and vegetable soups.
- The sweetest fortified wines like Madeira and Port pair well with desserts like cheesecakes, puddings pies, and chocolate torte.
Finally, make sure to choose a sweet wine with a light body and low alcohol. Thes wines can cool down the spicy and hot curries while at the same time ensuring that you can taste the sweetness in the desserts.
The one way to know if you have the right food pairing with wine is to take a small bite of the food and then sip a little wine; if the beverage generates a complementary flavor and makes the taste better, you have a good pairing.