Why drink sweet wine with dessert? And which sweet wine? Celebrations like Birthdays, Mothers’ Day and Christmas are the perfect excuse to lay on a feast including dessert. Do you give any thought to which wine you will drink with pudding or stick with the red or white wine you have been drinking with the main course? Find out why drinking a wine that’s sweet with desserts makes sense and what the key characteristic is that sweet wines need in order to complement desserts. This blogpost also includes a comparison of different types of sweet wines like Sauternes, ice wine, vin doux naturel, Moscato d’Asti and port, a brief description of how each is made and which type of desserts each pairs with best. WHY HAVE A SWEET WINE WITH DESSERT? After carefully selecting white and red wines for the first two or three courses of your meal, why would you not also find something to complement the pudding? Carrying on drinking the wine you have had during the previous course or courses will often not work and here is why. Drinking a wine that is not at least as sweet as your dessert can make your wine taste at best less fruity, at worst flat, bitter and even astringent. In addition, any tannins in red wine will clash with the food’s sweetness, make the wine taste metallic and bitter and the tannins will seem even more prominent and unintegrated. There are a handful of sweet wine and savoury food combinations that work well, some of which are mentioned below, but bear in mind that if you drink sweet wine early in a meal, it is very hard to go back to a dry wine especially a red and enjoy it as the flavours of the wine will seem flat. THE MAIN CHARACTERISTIC OF SWEET WINE TO DRINK WITH DESSERT The fundamental thing to remember, if you are going to have any wine with your dessert, is  1) to make sure that the wine is at least as sweet as the dessert. Many people over the years have told me, as soon as sweet wine is mentioned, that they don’t like it but I suspect that most of those people have not had the right sweet wine and consumed it with the right food. I’m not dictating what you should or should not drink but your dessert and wine will both taste better and complement each other if you choose a wine that is sweet and with one other key characteristic and that is… 2) good acidity. A wine’s acidity makes the wine seem drier than it actually is and it will ensure that the combination of sweet wine and sugary food is not sickeningly sweet. Acidity will slice through the sweetness of a dessert, make the wine seem balanced and leave your mouth watering. DIFFERENT SWEET WINES & WHAT TO DRINK THEM WITH Below are some sweet wines (some are classified as fortified wines but are also sweet or medium-sweet), together with some suggestions of the type of desserts that will work well with them. There are no hard & fast rules however but it is worth following suggestions 1) and 2) above. PUDDING WINE WITH FOOD There are many ways of achieving sweetness in wine and many of the world’s wine regions have their own specialities like TBA Riesling, Barsac, Monbazillac, Tokaji from Hungary but I’m going to use Sauternes as my main dessert or pudding wine example since it is considered by many to be the world’s best sweet wine. All these wines are produced in the same way.   Sauternes is typically produced mainly from Sémillon grapes that have been affected by ‘botrytis cinerea’, a fungal infection also known as noble rot, which in the right conditions makes the grapes shrivel on the vine, leading to very concentrated and sweet juice. Sémillon gives the wine body and tropical fruit flavours; Sauvignon Blanc which is often added to Sauternes brings acidity and citrus flavours and the best Sauternes wines include a small portion of Muscadelle which add lovely floral aromas to the wine. Flavours in the wine will include a range of citrus flavours like lime, grapefruit, tangerines and lemon zest, honey, apricots and often mango, pineapple and barley sugar. You can pair Sauternes and other noble rot-affected wines with most desserts but in my opinion they work best with lighter desserts such as fruit tarts, lighter chocolate puddings with fresh fruits such as raspberries, cherries or strawberries. Desserts with any of the typical fruit flavours of Sauternes will match as well e.g. citrus-flavoured puddings and apple pie. For heavier desserts with lots of cream you could still drink Sauternes but it must have a high level of mouth-watering acidity to cut through the fat in the dish. Similarly for desserts with salt like a salted caramel brownie, make sure your Sauternes has good acidity because the salt will reduce the acidity of your wine and make it seem quite flat and even flavourless. Tokaji is typically sweeter and more marmalade-y than Sauternes – it is a great match with a crème caramel and any other caramel-based desserts. Sauternes will also pair well with many blue cheeses like Roquefort – and with foie gras for those with a preference for more savoury dishes but as mentioned above, be wary if you plan to switch to a dry wine, especially a red, after it. ICE WINE WITH FOOD Ice wine also known as Eiswein is wine produced from grapes left to freeze on the vines; when the grapes are pressed only the sweet juices that have not frozen are used in the wines. Ice wine should also have good acidity to prevent them being too sweet and to help them pair well with most puddings. Often made from white grapes like Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer and Riesling, increasingly ice wine is being produced from black grapes like Cabernet Franc, Merlot and even Austria’s Blauen Zweigelt which makes for a