Think about trying to choose a dish that appeals to everyone in a group where we have, for example, a vegan, one that only eats meat and one that is boring to eat. If you understood this problem, you will also begin to understand the level of challenge I found in choosing perfect match for the dessert I chose to finish off the dinner I recently made for two couples of friends.
I knew, from the moment I chose the white chocolate mousse cake with ice cream, that harmonization was not the easiest task.
In fact, if you come to my house, you will see that I am not enochata, but detail. I like to see that what I chew matches what I drink. And I am very optimistic: I believe that anyone can feel the same explosion as me when a drink “closes” perfectly with food.
This makes me an eternal lover of harmonization, wine pairing, fur accord met, finally, for the beautiful combination that says “hi” to your taste buds and asks for a slow license to slide round your tongue, activating all the nerve endings in your mouth until a shock of pleasure reaches your brain.
Chosen dessert, we go to the elements that compose it to understand this idea of reconciling “vegan, carnivorous and boring”. It is the puzzle of harmonization. The pieces: a dessert; three textures; a wine. Putting it all together: a challenge.
White chocolate mousse.
Strawberry ice cream.
And the wine?
Lemon cake, sweet and citrus; white, creamy and pungent chocolate mousse; strawberry ice cream, touch of astringency and acidity. In short, several possibilities.
You could choose a liquor, like a “Limoncello“, a good almond liqueur, or even a Grand Marnier, of tangerine, but if the whole dinner was drizzled with wine, let’s continue in the same universe.
One of the basic principles for the success of harmonization is to have sensitivity to evaluate the intensity of the flavors and, thus, to combine them. Thinking about it, sweet wines immediately came to mind.
Dry red and white wines usually struggle with the sweet and intense flavors of dessert. It’s instinctive: the flavors shouldn’t overlap, but combine, harmonize! This reasoning already reduces our range of choices, but it is still open and offers us good options.
I first thought of a fortified wine. These are added to brandy to increase the alcohol content of the drink and at the same time allow your natural sugar level to remain high. My eyes lit up and I salivated when I remembered the ice wines. And I did not allow myself to dispense with the infallible category of traditional sparkling wines, such as Prosecco.
A little bit about each one to put the puzzle together.
Porto is the best known example of fortified wine, but I didn’t think of it: last year, on a trip to Portugal, I met Muscat of Setúbal, produced from muscat grape, very aromatic and sweet. The wine is aged in large oak barrels, like these:
The two-year aging in wood gives the wine aromas reminiscent of flowers, vanilla, honey, dates and jams. The fruity and floral sweet harmonizes with the lemon cake, while vanilla and honey combine divinely with mousse. To top it off, it still looks great with the strawberry characteristics. Incredible deal!
My heart swayed with this wine with pungent aromas and flavors that would not overlap or erase the characteristics of the sweet and would be balanced in relation to the sugar content.
And the classics late harvest, or “late harvest wines”?
I usually say that I don’t have favorite wines. They are like children: one must love each one in his own way. But I confess: these naughty people conquer me with a simple sip. These are wines whose grapes are harvested after the time of harvest. In case of Icewine, which belongs to this category, besides being later, it has to be when the grapes are already frozen on the vine, because it is the ice that intensifies the concentration of sugar in the fruit.
Its production is restricted to a few countries, mainly Canada – the pioneer – and Germany (where it is called Eiswein), as a very cold climate is necessary for the grapes to naturally freeze on the foot.
These wines have fairly high acidity characteristics, resulting in fruity and fresh aromas, such as peach, pear, honey, citrus and fig, which go very well with the citrus of the cake, the creamy sweetness of the mousse and the astringency and freshness of strawberry ice cream.
The good news is that, in 2009, the first Brazilian Icewine, through the Pericó Cave, São Joaquim winery, Santa Catarina. The wine is made from the cabernet sauvignon variety, and respects the same process used in producing countries. It was in the 2009 harvest that the ideal conditions were obtained for the harvest and vinification of these grapes.
Now, the one who is really a wildcard, is the Italian Prosecco. Originating in Veneto, it has an alcohol content of around 11%. Fresh drink, with aromas reminiscent of fruits such as apple, pear, apricot and peach. Lighter and less sweet option than dessert wines, with the advantage that, depending on the chosen starter and dish, you may have accompanied your entire dinner!
Studied the three main elements of our moussudo ice cream cake and made the brainstorming of matching options, it’s time to assemble the puzzle.
In the end, I combined the useful with the pleasant: last year I had been presented with Icewine from Cave Pericó, and I was very curious about it. No sooner said than done! Remember that explosion that I described at the beginning? It happened! The intense aromas of apricot jam and vanilla notes reached the ideal degree of pungency to enhance the flavor of this dessert. And we also honor the courage of Brazilian producers in this challenge. Thankful surprise!
But I must confess: I couldn’t resist the bottle of Moscatel de Setúbal 2011 from Bacalhôa who looked at me from the cellar. Everyone agreed, and we did the test: fantastic! It didn’t reach the Icewine’s 5 stars, but it was almost. Equally highly recommended, excellent combination!
The puzzle was assembled, glued and framed, ready to be hung on the wall so well fitted!
Either way, I guarantee that any of the above wines will be delicious! Also follow your instinct, your preferences, convenience and cost effectiveness. These were my choices:
Icewine Pericó vintage 2009 (15%) – Average price: R $ 200
Moscatel de Setúbal Bacalhôa vintage 2011 (17.5%) – Average price: R $ 90
Prosecco Bottega II (11%) – Average price: R $ 62
A kiss and à toute (see you later)!