October 14th is National Dessert Day, and what better way to double the fun than to pair your dessert with a dessert wine? Dessert wines are meant to be enjoyed in small glasses and serve as the perfect accompaniment to a variety of sweet and savory treats!
Germany produces a wide range of wines, ranging from dry to sparkling to richly sweet. Some of the world’s most adored dessert wines are late harvest German Rieslings, thanks to the grape’s natural high acidity that helps balance any sweetness present in the wine. However, other varietals can be used to make incredible dessert wines as well. Read on to learn more about the different types of German dessert wines, and choose one (or two) to try for yourself this Sunday!
Noble Rot Riesling: Noble rot is a type of spore called Botrytis cinerea that can destroy grapes in wet conditions, but produces wines distinguished by coveted honey and ginger flavors under perfect conditions with ripe grapes. Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese Rieslings tend to have lower alcohol content and sweeter profiles than other categories of German Rieslings due to their interaction with Botrytis.
Pair with a fruity apricot strudel to balance the wine’s sweetness and highlight (without overpowering) the rich, bold flavors.
Select Harvest Gewürztraminer: Gewürztraminer is a highly aromatic varietal, producing refreshing and easy to drink wines often exploding with fruity flavors and floral notes. Try an Auslese style to pair with a fruity dessert. Meaning “select harvest,” Auslese designates that grapes are hand-selected and have Noble Rot. These wines have a distinctive aroma of lychee and roses with a moderate alcohol content.
Pair with a fruit-based dessert like a pear and kiwi tart to bring out the fruity flavors in both the food and wine.
Eiswein: Ice wine, the most elite of all German dessert wines, is very rare and risky to produce as the grapes must be picked during the first frost, when temperatures hit exactly 19 degrees Fahrenheit. To add to the difficulty, ice wines must be harvested when the grapes are frozen (usually very early in the morning) and pressed immediately. Known as Eiswein in Germany, this type of dessert wine is typically made from Riesling and exhibits luscious – but not cloying – flavors of tropical fruits, honey, and caramel.
Pair with an indulgent crème brulée to match the intensity of the wine, or simply let it stand alone and drink a second glass.