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How to Choose Dessert Wines

A dessert wine makes a great meal even better. Follow these tips to top off your menu with flair.


  • Step 1: Know your dessert wines Learn the different types of dessert wines, including fortified wines, such as port and sherry, and late harvest wines, made from mature, sweet grapes.
  • Step 2: Choose a dessert Decide what to serve for dessert and choose a wine to complement it. Cake or cookies, fruit and cheese, and chocolate are good choices.
  • TIP: Complement the meal. Follow a heavy meal with a lighter dessert. Save rich desserts to follow lighter meals.
  • Step 3: Drink port with hearty desserts Serve port, a red wine fortified with brandy, with rich desserts. Pair lighter ruby ports with fruit pies, tawny ports with milk chocolate, and vintage ports with dark chocolate.
  • Step 4: Muscat wine Drink Muscat wine with fruit. Muscat grapes produce a sweet, light, fruity wine.
  • TIP: Dessert wine should be sweeter than whatever you serve with it.
  • Step 5: Noble rot Indulge in a bottle of Sauternes, a wine made from grapes infected by "noble rot," a fungus that concentrates their sugars. Serve with fruit and Roquefort cheese.
  • Step 6: Serve wine Serve very sweet dessert wines, such as ice wine or German Ausele, on their own. These are a dessert in themselves!
  • FACT: French law permits Sauternes production only in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux.

You Will Need

  • A variety of desserts
  • A supply of dessert wines

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