When planning a special meal, pre-dinner cocktails and wine pairings for the main course are no-brainers, but dessert is often overlooked. Which is so disappointing because there is something so indulgent in ending your evening with something sweet alongside a perfect sip.
Now, if you do endeavour to treat your guests to a dessert pairing, just keep in mind that, in general, the drink needs to be sweeter than the dessert itself. Or, when in doubt, a classic digestif (a drink sipped after a meal to help aid in digestion) like Brandy always goes over well, especially as the temperatures begin to drop.
Apple Pie - Fallentimber Sweet Mead, Water Valley, AB
The specialty of grandmas across the country, I dare you to come up with a dessert more comforting than apple pie! Flaky pastry and gooey apples dusted in nutty brown sugar and sweet cinnamon need something perfectly sweet to compliment each element - enter the Sweet Mead from Fallentimber.
The texture of this honey wine is quite refreshing while bringing notes of sweet honey, white apple blossoms and a gentle waxiness that marries the richness of the pie.
Fruitcake - Ironworks Apple Brandy, Annapolis Valley, NS
The black sheep of any holiday party, fruitcake fails to get the recognition it deserves. Dried fruit, nuts and a dense, booze soaked cake are the perfect excuse to sip Brandy at the end of your meal. The apple brandy from Ironworks Distillery in Nova Scotia has creamy notes of vanilla and toffee, while the subtle alcohol burn actually helps to lighten the heaviness often associated with fruitcake.
Pumpkin Pie - Tawse Chardonnay Ice Wine, Niagara Escarpment, ON
No Thanksgiving feast is complete without a piece of pumpkin pie. Spicy notes of nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon are suspended among sweet and savoury baked pumpkin. Add in buttery pastry and you’ll find yourself looking for something sweet that also offers a refreshing dose of acidity.
Icewine manages to be sweet and syrupy while maintaining enough acidity to bring some much needed moisture to your palate. Riesling and Vidal Icewines would pair just fine but the Chardonnay Icewine from Tawse has a beautiful depth, with notes of vanilla, toffee and apricot with a tart finish, perfectly complimenting the pumpkin pie.
Chocolate Cake - Narrative Fortified, Okanagan Valley, BC
Chocolate cake - the king of all desserts - is rich and sinfully decadent. There are so many variations of chocolate cake but one thing that remains consistent is the slight bitterness from the cocoa that is balanced with creamy, sweet notes from milk solids.
A classic pairing for chocolate is fortified red wine (think port) as the sweet, dark red fruit flavours help bring out the complexity in chocolate. Narrative Fortified tastes like chocolate covered cherries, transforming your dessert into something more akin to black forest cake when enjoyed together. Delicious!
Shortbread - Kitsch Blanc de Blancs, Okanagan Valley, BC
Shortbread is not just for the holidays, but indulging in more than a couple of these rich, buttery biscuits feels more acceptable over the holidays. Because shortbread is not overly sweet, you could pair just about anything with it, but sparkling wine just feels so right. The toasty bubbles from Kitsch Blanc de Blancs brings out a bit of sweetness in the cookies and helps enhance the decadent, crumbly texture.
Sticky Toffee Pudding - Averill Creek Somenos Tawny, Cowichan Valley, BC
As the weather starts to cool off, warm and comforting flavours of caramel and baking spices feel as natural as a cozy wool sweater. Sticky toffee pudding is just as it sounds, a dense cake covered in sticky caramel and topped with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream, and it is about as perfect a fall or winter dessert as you could ever want.
This dessert is sweet and the Somenos Tawny port from Averill Creek matches the sweetness while adding depth with its notes of dates and sunaltas and a hint of orange marmalade.