The one-minute lesson on dessert wines

A crash course in pairing wines with holiday sweets

Sara Schneider

Here's our quickie guide to the three main dessert wines ( late-harvest, sweet sparklers, and port-style) and how they pair with holiday sweets.

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.

Tastes like

Whites: nectarlike stone fruit, candied citrus, and baked apple flavors. If the grapes had botrytis, or "noble rot," expect honey.

Red (namely late-harvest Zinfandel): 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.

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