Best dessert wine pairings

Our guide to the three main dessert wines and how they pair with your favorite sweets

Late-harvest dessert wine

Late-harvest dessert wines play well with fruit tarts, no matter the season.

Iain Bagwell

Sweet sparkler dessert wine

Sweet sparklers complement a variety of flavors, including fall favorite pumpkin pie.

Leo Gong

Port-style dessert wine

Port is a classic combo with chocolatey treats.

Annabelle Breakey

Rule of thumb: The wine should be at least as sweet as the dessert, with enough acidity for balance.


Made from grapes left on the vine past normal picking times to build sugar levels.

Whites taste like: Nectarlike stone fruit, candied citrus, and baked apple flavors. If the grapes had botrytis, or “noble rot,” expect honey.

Red (namely late-harvest Zinfandel) tastes like: Full of dried cherries and chocolate.

Great with: Cheesecake with berries, fruit tarts, apple pie, and carrot cake; late-harvest Zin is yummy with chocolate.

Recommended bottles:


Called “extra dry,” “sec,” “demi-sec,” or “doux,” depending on the sweetness of the dosage (a blend of sugar and wine added just before corking).

Tastes like: Apple, pear, creamy citrus, berry, and yeast flavors.

Great with: Cheesecake, custard-fruit tarts, apple pie, buttery-crusted desserts, pumpkin pie, and English toffee.

Recommended bottles: 


Sweet wines from Portuguese grape varieties, Zin, or Syrah, fortified with brandy.

Tastes like: Dark cherry and berry flavors, with chocolate, coffee, and licorice.

Great with: All things chocolate, pecan pie, and mocha.

Recommended bottles:

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