Pairing Dessert Wine With Cheese

Dessert wines often pair really well with cheese. The sweet and salty combination of dessert wine and cheese is delicious at the end of the meal when you'd like a little something sweet but not sugary desserts.

Below are 7 popular types of dessert wines, along with cheese pairing suggestions.

  • 01 of 07

    Port

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    Gorgonzola. © Image 2014 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.

  • 02 of 07

    Sherry

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    Manchego. © Image 2012 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.

  • 03 of 07

    Madeira

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    Gruyere. © Image 2012 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, and Zamarano. Madeira also pairs well with blue cheeses.

  • 04 of 07

    Sauternes

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    Colorouge Washed Rind Cheese. © Image 2014 Jennifer Meier

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Sweet Riesling

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    Nocturne Goat Cheese. © Image 2014 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...MORE can also pair well with a nice white Cheddar.

  • 06 of 07

    Gewurztraminer

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    Greenfields by Saxon Creamery. © Image 2014 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 full-flavored cheeses - try Hirtenkase or Appenzeller, and Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, Greenfields by Saxon Creamery or Muenster.

  • 07 of 07

    Sweet Sparkling Wines

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    Parmigiano-Reggiano. © Image 2012 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.