Firstly, back to the golden rule for pairing wine with desserts – the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. So for ice cream, we are looking for extremely sweet wines.
Over the years I have mentally built up a little list of favorites.
First up would have to be the unctuous and delicious PX (Pedro Ximénez), a sherry wine produced from the Pedro Ximénez grape and considered to be the sweetest wine in the world. No need even for a glass! Just pour the wine right over your vanilla ice cream and dig in.
Even better soak some golden raisins in the PX over night for an added touch of luxury. Purists may prefer to keep the PX in a proper glass and sip slowly. And that is okay too!
Many of the sweet Muscat wines also pair very well with ice cream, particularly, ice creams with peachy, apricot, honeyed or other tropical fruit flavors. Wines that I particularly like are Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Muscat de Rivesaltes or even the Portuguese Moscatel de Sétubal. Another type of Muscat is Black Muscat, made from the rare black skinned Muscat grape, usually used as a table grape. Extremely sweet, these wines have rich aromas and flavors of roses, cherry and other red berries and provide a lovely contrast to chocolate or coffee flavored ice creams.
A third category of wines includes the sweet red wines of Banyuls and Maury, both Vins Doux Naturels from Roussillon in France. Made from predominantly red Grenache grapes the wines have heady aromas and flavors of macerating red fruit, and are some of the few wines that pair perfectly with chocolate – so these are for those chocolate and mocha flavor ice-creams.
And then there is the Ice wine (or Eiswein, as it is called in Germany), made from grapes frozen on the vine. Luscious, with aromas and flavors of dried stone fruit, honey, orange blossoms, honeysuckle would work well with delicately flavored ice creams such as lavender and even with Sara Kate’s buttermilk rosemary ice cream.
Below are some suggestions of sweet wines that I have tried over the past few years and particularly like with ice cream. Sweet wines usually come in half-bottle (37.5 cl), and apart from the Inniskillin Ice Wine most of them range from $13 to $25 for a half bottle. I’d love to hear some of your ideas on what wines you like to pair with your favorite ice cream.
Banyuls (Roussillon, South of France)
• Banyuls Clos de Paulilles
• Tour Vieille 2005 Banyuls
Maury (Roussillon, South of France)
• Mas Amiel, Maury
• Domaine de la Coume du Roy Maury
Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise (Rhone Valley)
• Vignerons de Beaumes-de-Venise
• Coyeux, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
Muscat de Rivesaltes (Roussillon, South of France)
• Domaine de la Coume du Roy, Muscat de Rivesaltes
• Chateau de Jau, Muscat de Rivesaltes
Moscatel de Setúbal (Portugal)
• Moscatel de Setúbal, Bacalhoa
Black Muscat (Various producing countries but I have mainly tasted California)
• Rosenblum Black Muscat, California ($15)
• Quady Elysium Black Muscat, California ($15)
Ice-Wine/Eiswein (Many producing countries, most famous being Canada, Germany, Austria and now more New World countries.)
• Rudolf Mueller Eiswein, Mosel ($15)
• Inniskillen Vidal Icewine ($50)
• Selaks Ice Wine, Marlborough, New Zealand ($15)
• Chambers Rutherglen Muscat (Victoria)
• Campbells Rutherglen Muscat (Victoria)
Related: Vino: Canadian Ice Wines
(Wine and ice cream image: Martha Stewart)