By Maggie Walters
Hello All! It’s me, Maggie, your resident ‘Wine Geek’ at Colonial. If you haven’t realized it yet, Thanksgiving is just over a week away! (Oh My!!)
On that note I thought I would talk (via blog) all things wine and pie. I feel like turkey, stuffing, and appetizers get all of the glory with wine pairings, but let’s not forget the last course; dessert! There are SO MANY dessert wines out there with so many different flavor profiles that will elevate your pie experience in ways you never expected. It’s always great to try new things, and, hey, your new favorite wine and food pairing could be just a sip away.
Whether you’re making a pie from scratch or ordering a pie from a local bakery like Honey Pies (they’re kind of amazing), these wines will make a great accompaniment to your ‘Turkey Day’ desserts.
Foreword: Most of these wines I’m featuring are fortified dessert wines. This means that they have had a form of brandy added to them during the fermentation process. This keeps the wines rich, sweet, higher in alcohol, and gives them a longer life allowing for a longer aging process. For example, the longer a tawny port ages, the nuttier the flavor profile. Pair a ‘nutty’ wine with a nutty pie (like pecan) and you’ve got one heck of a pairing!
I compare drinking these wines to drinking a spirit at the end of a meal. Sometimes a little pour of Cognac or Bourbon just hits the spot, but all you need is a little, right? You’re not going to top off your glass to the brim (well, typically wink, wink). The same rule applies to these dessert wines. They’re so much higher in alcohol than table wines, so a little goes a long way. Which can be nice if you’re winding down after a big feast!
Fortified wines also stay fresher much longer than table wines. Pop them in the fridge after opening and they’ll stay fresh for a month! (Just in time for the next holiday feast.)
Now to the good stuff:
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
with Sandeman Rich Cream Oloroso Sherry
This was by far the most difficult pairing for me to make. I had to do a lot of research and a lot of tasting (it’s a hard life y’all). So, let’s talk oloroso sherry. Oloroso is a style of sherry that has been aged in a semi-filled barrel. The prolonged exposure to more air (oxygen) causes some serious development in flavors. This wine is rich, dark in color, nutty (think walnut) and smells of caramel. To me, this wine interacts well with the sweet potato pie; the sweet potato takes on caramel notes, and the baking spices in the pie are enhanced. Whether you’re buying this pie meringue style from Honey Pies or using your grandmother’s traditional recipe, this wine is a great addition!
Fudge Brownie Pie
with Rosa Di Rosa
Rosa Di Rosa is a half sweet, half sparkling red wine from northern Italy. Think of this wine as Moscato’s red step sister. It’s light, bright, low in alcohol and very refreshing! This wine smells of juicy, stewed berries, almost like a fruit pie filling. Do you know what goes well with stewed berries? Chocolate! Think of this wine as an accompaniment. Kind of like that strawberry sauce that you find at the bottom of your chocolate cake plate at a nice restaurant that has been swirled into a beautiful design that you just don’t want to mess up by digging in. This accompaniment comes in glass form, so no plating necessary! This wine pairs very well with a variety of chocolate desserts. So if you’re looking at making a chocolate mousse, cookies, or cream pie, this is a great pairing!
Classic Pecan Pie
with Taylor Fladgate 10yr Tawny Port
This is hands down my favorite classic pie and wine pairing. It will definitely be featured at my personal dinner table this holiday season! Oh tawny port! A delicious aged sweet red wine from Portugal that smells and tastes of roasted nuts, dried fruits, and toffee just to name a few notes. Similar to the oloroso sherry, this wine has been aged for a longer period of time to allow nutty and toffee notes to come to fruition and the fruit notes to fade away to dried. Somehow the wine makes the pie taste better and the pie makes the wine taste better, it’s like they were made for each other! Add a little tawny port to your pie filling instead of vanilla extract, and wow! You’ve got quite a pairing! You can think me later!
Pumpkin Salted Caramel Cheesecake
with Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry
AND Sori Gramella, Kermit Lynch Moscato d’Asti
Cheesecake. One of the most versatile desserts out there! (I’ve even had it made with goat cheese – super interesting). Right now, however, we are talking pumpkin, salted caramel cheesecake. Executive Pastry Chef, Anne Wood from Honey Pies really knows her stuff. This is one heck of a dessert! To go along with the versatility of this cheesecake I’ve even come up with two options: a sherry and a moscato! So this sherry, which is very different in style than the oloroso I talked about with the sweet potato pie, is a fortified wine. For some, fortified wines are a little more difficult to get into. As I mentioned previously they are rich, sweet, high in alcohol, and only meant to be sipped in small pours. Others may prefer a low-alcohol, light wine that can be drunk by the glass, or maybe you want to try them both! Either way, here are my two offerings!
Pedro Ximenez Sherry: Pedro Ximenez is actually the grape name. It is a Spanish grape, sherry of course being made in the south of Spain from a town called Jerez. This grape is typically used as a blending grape to make other sherries sweeter, but when made on its own produces an almost syrup style wine. The first tasting note that is expressed is the flavor of raisins. This is created from the grapes being dried before fermentation, traditionally on straw mats in the sun. This ‘raisin’ wine also expresses notes of toffee, caramel, fig and dates. These notes play really well off of the salted caramel drizzled on top of this cheesecake. Honestly, if you were doing a plain cheesecake this wine would be delicious used as a sauce, just drizzle a little over the top. It’s AH-MAZING over vanilla ice-cream too!
Moscato d’Asti: Probably this is one of the most recognized and iconic dessert wines on the market currently. With such a saturated market of this variety comes a lot of varying quality levels. I chose one that is a classic! Anything Kermit Lynch imports is always held to a higher standard. This wine is sweet, but not cloying. Has great mouthwatering acidity that refreshes the palate, and is a little spritzy. Combine that with a low alcohol percentage and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. With a dessert as creamy as cheesecake it’s nice to do a contrasting pairing that lightens the dessert versus being just as decadent.
I hope this inspires some dessert pairings on your dinner table this season! If you are serving any desserts that aren’t listed here but you want to feature them with a pairing, please come see me! I would love to help!