Dessert and fortified wines are one of fall’s most delicious wine treats. While many of these dessert-themed wines find happy pairing partners in the traditional blue cheese or salty seasonal nuts, many will shine exceptionally bright when partnered up with the season’s favorite pies. Check out some top pie pairing picks ranging from fortified favorites to late harvest delights, Banyuls and more.
- Pumpkin Pie – traditional, rich and filled with warm seasonal spice – the perfect pick for Port. To slice through the yummy spice character and lean into the creamy textures and full-on pumpkin flavors, consider the nutty nuances, smidge of citrus and innate spice of Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny to bring synergy and contrast to the sweet pumpkin motifs.
- Lemon Almond Tart – With Italian roots and the perfect mix of sweet meets savory, the famed lemon almond tart begs for the decadent, late-harvest, botrytis-ensnared themes that Bordeaux’s Sauternes deliver so well. Meshing the full-bodied medium sweet, honeyed profile of Chateau Guiraud Sauternes’ citrus character with the peppy palate offerings of the not overly sweet lemon almond tart brings the old standby of complementary pairing protocol to full flavor fruition.
- Pecan Pie – Sticky, nutty and ultra-sweet, what’s not to love about this seasonal favorite? For this pairing we’ll travel southwest off the coast of Portugal to the island of Madeira. Opting for Blandy’s 15 Year Old Malmsey Madeira, where a full body and smooth palate texture delivers generous brown sugar character, rounded out by caramel, walnuts, and distinct mocha influences. The high acidity in the wine is what makes this pairing work. Acidity cuts through the sugar in the pecan pie like a knife and carries the residual sugar in the Madeira itself to brighter levels preventing the sweet spike from being turned into an insulin-induced sugar spiral void of competing flavors and palate interest.
- Apple Cobbler – Ahh, apple cobbler. That sweet fall treat that fans the flames of ripe apples, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and toasted oats crumbled with butter – does anything say fall louder than that? For this autumn dessert, we’ll run with a lighter-styled white wine from the hillside heart of Italy’s Langhe region in Piedmont. Light, bright and insanely aromatic, Saracco Moscato d’Asti engages everything from apple cobbler to the famous French upside-down apple Tarte Tatin to biscotti and Milan’s famous panettone with exceptional versatility and pairing potential.
- Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie – Beginning with a basic pecan pie and turning it up a notch by adding the unmistakable flavors of both bourbon and semi-sweet chocolate, this particular high-octane pie demands something with a bit of palate heft itself. Enter Taylor Fladgate’s 20 Year Tawny, big, rich and complex, marrying the best of figs and caramelized character with the savory elements of walnuts and warm spice. This pairing highlights the complement over the contrast with both the pie and the fortified wine showing full throttle flavors and spotlighting some overlap in terms of aromatic and flavor elements.
- Cherry Pie – There’s just something cheery about cherry pie. An American staple and perfect for pairing with the French dessert wine from the Roussillon, the traditional cherry pie will find a friend in the sweet cherry and chocolate flavors of Grenache-based Banyuls. Gerard Bertrand Banyuls promises significant ripe red and black fruit on the nose and palate combined with a sweet style, full body, and moderate tannins. If you plan on opting for a piece of chocolate in lieu of a slice of pie this Thanksgiving, Banyuls also delivers some serious pairing potential with all things chocolate.
While pairing Port with pie and Banyuls with chocolate are both decadent and delicious endings to a Thanksgiving feast, there are many that consider dessert wines as dessert themselves. The choice is yours! Happy Thanksgiving!