Whether you are new to sweet wines or have been enjoying them as an after-dinner drink for years, you may be surprised at how versatile sweet wines can be. While your first instinct might be to pair sweet wines with dessert, they can actually pair well with salads, main dishes, and cheeses. Below are some different ways to try sweet wines, focusing on Italian options.
Try Sparkling for Light Dishes
Sparkling wines often feel refreshing on the tongue, which can pair well with salads and even fish. Italian sweet sparkling wines, like Asti or Lambrusco, tend to be lightly sweet, unlike the Americanized versions of these wines. Sweeter Lambrusco can pair well with poultry and pork, especially when served with a fruit-based sauce.
Use Sweet to Temper Spicy
Spicy food can be difficult to pair with alcoholic beverages because alcohol tends to increase the sensation of spiciness. However, low-alcohol sweet wines can actually help mellow the flavor of a particularly spicy dish as sugar can dilute spiciness. In this case, skip the sparkling options, and try high-sugar red wines. You should look for wines that have less than 12% alcohol for pairing with spicy dishes.
Try a Savory Dessert
Sweet wines pair exceptionally well with salty foods and cheeses. Instead of pairing sweet with sweet, consider allowing your wine to take center stage as the sweet part of your dessert and use a light, savory pastry or a cheese to bring out the flavors in the wine.
Fortified wines are wines mixed with a spirit. Some Italian options include Marsala and sweet red Vermouth. Fortified Italian wines are often used in cooking, but you can also drink them on their own. One trick to try is to cook with a fortified wine and then continue the dining experience by using the same wine as an after-dinner drink. This will give your meal cohesion throughout all the stages.
Let It Age
Sweet wines tend to age well because of their high sugar content. As they age, they will usually gain a deeper flavor profile with more earthy notes. This can allow you to pair an older white wine with a variety of nutty or vegetarian dishes.
While sweet wines can pair well with sweet desserts, limiting yourself to this pairing can impair your full enjoyment of these wines. You should not be afraid to experiment with your pairings and find the best wines for your entire meal. To find Italian sweet wines, contact a supplier in your area.