August is all about staying cool at The Kitchn. With the mercury rising dessert has got to be super-cold. For us this means anything ice-cream, sorbet or gelato - anything icy that keeps us cool. And for those of us who like to sip a little wine with dessert no matter what the temperature, here are some of my favorite wine and ice cream pairings.
First, a handy rule of thumb is to remember that for dessert the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. As ice cream is very sweet you need an extremely sweet wine. So here we go.
Five Wine & Ice Cream Pairings
• Vanilla ice cream with Pedro Ximenez (PX) – Possibly my number one pairing has to be PX served with, or even better, dribbled over the best vanilla ice cream you can make or buy. To make it even more indulgent I usually soak some golden raisins in the PX overnight. This adds an extra touch of luxury. PX is a very sweet fortified sherry style of wine from Jerez and Morilla Montilles in Andalucia in Spain. Most sherry houses make a PX.
• Peach, mango or apricot ice cream with Rutherglen Muscat - With these flavors a favorite for me is an Australian ‘Stickie’, which is the affectionate term for a Rutherglen Muscat from Victoria, Australia. This is a fantastic combination. Deliciously sweet and rich, the wine has tangy stone fruit flavors that complement these ice creams and it is definitely sweet enough. Ruthergeln Muscat is made from the brown Muscat grape. The grapes semi-raisin on the vine before harvesting. It is fortified to 18% alcohol, which stops the fermentation early on, resulting in a very sweet wine.
• Chocolate ice cream with Banyuls or Maury – With chocolate flavors I usually go for a Banyuls or a Maury wine from Roussillon in France. Made from Grenache Noir grapes, these are both VDN wines (Vins Doux Naturels), meaning that they made using mutage ( i.e. fortification) up to 16% alcohol. These wines are heady with aromas and flavors of macerating red fruit. Their richness pairs wonderfully with all sorts of chocolate or mocha ice cream.
• Floral ice creams with Icewine - Delicate ice creams such as elderflower and lavender work best with sweet wines that display an ethereal lightness of being. Icewine or Eiswein is my choice here. These wines are so called because they are made from grapes frozen on the vine. They are luscious, extremely sweet with aromas and flavors of stone fruit, honey, orange blossoms and honeysuckle. A delectable complement to delicate ice cream flavors.
• Strawberry or other red fruit ice creams with Black Muscat - My favorite combo here is a sweet Black Muscat wine, with its pronounced aromas and flavors roses and ripe red berries that pick up the ice cream flavors. Delicious, it is made from ultra ripe grapes and is fortified up to 16% to stop the fermentation early, resulting in a super-sweet wine.
These are just some of my favorite pairings. There are many other sweet wines that will also work with these flavors. What is your favorite wine and ice cream combination?
Until next week, stay cool with your favorite wine and ice cream pairing.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She holds the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.