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Pairing Dessert Wine With Cheese

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Dessert wines with varying levels sweetness pair really well with cheese. Serve these pairings at the end of the meal or with an evening of appetizers.

1. Port

Blue Cheese and Port Pair Well Together. Photo by Jennifer Meier
Port is a fortified wine from Portugal. Generally speaking, less expensive ports have flavors of sweet, ripe dark berries. Vintage and aged Ports lean towards flavors of dried fruits with hints of caramelized nuts. Port and the blue cheese Stilton are a traditional pairing. Port will also pair well with other blue cheeses. Garnish the blue cheese with walnuts or pecans, either raw or candied.

2. Sherry

Mahon Cheese and Sherry Pair Well Together. Photo by Jennifer Meier
Sherry is a fortified wine from Spain. Amontillado (less sweet), Oloroso,(sweeter) Cream Sherry (more sweet)and Pedro Ximénez (very sweet) all pair well with cheese. Sherries often have a nutty flavor with a hint of dried figs. Pair with salty Spanish cheeses, such as Manchego,Cabrales, Mahon and Serra de Estrella.

3. Madeira

Gruyere Cheese and Madeira Pair Well Together. Photo by Jennifer Meier
The island of Madeira off the coast of North Africa is considered part of Portugal. It is the namesake of this dessert wine that ages for decades. Look for a Malmsey Madeira, which is richer and sweeter but still balanced, as it has more acidity than a wine like Port. With a slight flavor of toasted nuts, Madeira pairs well with cheeses that have a nutty character - Gruyere, Petite Basque, Zamarano. Madeira also pairs well with blue cheeses.

4. Sauternes

Epoisses Cheese and Sauternes Pair Well Together. Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber.com
The flavor of this sweet wine from France is often compared to apricots and honey. Pair with blue cheeses or salty washed rind cheeses like Epoisses.

5. Sweet Riesling

Selles-sur-Cher Goat Cheese and Sweet Riesling Pair Well Together. Photo by Jennifer Meier
All Rieslings - dry, off-dry and sweet - are especially cheese-friendly wines. If you're serving cheese as a dessert course, look for Rieslings with Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, or Late Harvest on the label, as these words all indicate the Riesling will be on the sweeter side. Pair with creamy cheeses like Selles-sur-Cher (or other soft goat cheeses), Reblochon, Camembert and Muenster, or with harder cheeses that have a "swiss flavor" - Comte, Beaufort and Hoch Ybrig. Rieslings can also pair well with a nice white Cheddar.

6. Gewurztraminer

Appenzeller Cheese and Gewurztraminer Pair Well Together. Photo by Jennifer Meier
Gewurztraminer, with its aromatic flavors of rose petals, baking spices, apricots, lychee and citrus is a white wine that ranges from dry to sweet in style. Both styles pair well with cheeses - try Hirtenkase or Appenzeller, and Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk or Muenster.

7. Sweet Sparkling Wines

Saint Andre Cheese and Sweet Sparkling Wines. Photo by Jennifer Meier
Demi-Sec Champagnes or Italian Moscato d'Asti are fun sparkling wines for the start or end of a meal. Pair with Parmigiano-Reggiano, soft goat cheeses, or triple-creme cheese.

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