Five Great Wine & Pie Pairings for the Perfect Spring Dessert
Spring is here, and as E. E. Cummings would have us believe, the world is puddle wonderful and mud-luscious (there’s a link to a mud pie recipe below). What better way to celebrate the season than with pie? And what could possibly go better with pie than a lovely glass wine?
What’s that you say? “Pie and wine? How could two of my favorite things possibly go that well together?” Never fear. We’re about to explain ourselves.
It’s true, pairing wines with certain types of food (as anyone who’s ever tried to pick a wine to go with pad Thai or a goat curry can tell you), can be challenging. Pairing wines with desserts is no exception. Sure, anyone can serve a tawny port or a nice German Riesling with a slice of pie or cake, thereby dumping sweet on sweet, and call it a day.
But to really tease out the best of both the dessert and the wine through an appropriate pairing, that much is alchemy worthy of the goat-footed balloon man.
1) Rhubarb Pie and Côtes du Rhône Rosé
Rhubarb, aka pie plant, that luscious imitator of fruits, is back in season. And nowhere does it shine like it does in a classic rhubarb pie. But with a flavor profile that can subtly combine both sweet and tart elements with a slightly herbaceous flavor, it can be difficult to pick a wine for. In this case, a dry rosé, like those produced in the South of France or neighboring Spain, is your best bet. The acidity of the wine, along with its strong mineral complexity compliments the flavor of rhubarb quite nicely.
2) Strawberry Tart and Viognier (Condrieu)
While a tart and a pie are not technically the same thing, it’s spring and the strawberries are kicking in and strawberry tarts are far more popular than strawberry pie. So, when you make your strawberry (or any other berry) tart, reach for the Viognier (Condrieu in the South of France) to complement it with its strong backbone of acidity, and citrus fruit-forwardness. An un-oaked chardonnay will do nicely, as well.
3) Chocolate Cream Pie and Barbaresco
For those who cannot read a dessert-oriented post that doesn’t include at least one chocolate item, here it is. Chocolate cream pie is luscious, and can range between light and airy on the one hand, and dense and decadent on the other. Regardless, a nice well-rounded medium-bodied red like a Barbaresco or a pinot noir will pair well with it, though the heavier the chocolate, the bigger the red you can get away with.
4) Espresso Mud Pie and Ruby Port
For the ice-cream pie lover in all of us, a mud pie is hard to beat. The ice cream cake of pies, with a chocolate crust, a coffee ice cream center, and a ganache top, will stand up to a true dessert wine like a ruby port just about better than any other dessert this side of tiramisu.
5) Key Lime Pie and Gewürztraminer
And one last one for the challenge: Key lime pie is the Thai food of desserts, in that it is very difficult to pair with wines. Depending on how tart the finished product ends up, a late harvest Gewürztraminer can be a perfect partner for this beautiful tropical pie. The sweeter the finished pie is, the more you’ll want to back down the scale of sweetness toward a dry Riesling, the likes of which you can find in most bottles sourced from Alsace, rather than their German counterparts.
Relax! It’s Pie and Wine; What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
In the end, if you decide to go with a wine that is wildly inappropriate for your dessert option, set it aside, eat your pie, and then soldier on through drinking your wine. There really is no wrong way to go here. The preceding are suggestions based on experience with paring flavors, but everyone’s palette is different. Drink the wine you like with the dessert you like and everything will be fine.