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A rule of thumb I've heard concerning pairing (sweet) wine with (sweet) desserts is that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. For some references, see e.g., here or here.

So suppose I'm serving a sweet dessert but I only have an intuitive feeling of how sweet it is. When picking suitable wine for it, I can look at its sugar content, but how can I match it against the supposed sweetness of the dessert? I can also imagine this can be overdone by always going for the extremely sweet wine.

Ideally, I think I would be looking for a guideline like "dessert of type x, go for a wine with at around y grams of sugar in a liter" and so on.

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  • I’m not so sure how universal your rule of thumb is.
    – Eric S
    Jul 8 at 23:46
  • For example: winefolly.com/wine-pairing/…
    – Eric S
    Jul 9 at 0:53
  • @EricS Well, I'm not saying this is the only way to pair wine and dessert, but that it's a rule of thumb advocated by at least some if not many experts.
    – Juho
    Jul 9 at 5:29
  • I'm guessing the idea is if you are serving a dessert wine (universally sweet) with a dessert then the wine should be sweeter. That doesn't mean that the best wine to pair with a sweet dessert is a dessert wine. Either way, I have no particular expertise in this.
    – Eric S
    Jul 10 at 2:43
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When sommeliers do pairings, it's (almost) always based on experience in having tasted both the wine and the food, as the goal of a pairing is primarily sensory: tastes, smells, mouth-feel, etc.

I'm not a sommelier, so I welcome someone with actual training to contradict me on this, but I don't think you'll find this rule of thumb to be measured quite so quantitatively.

Sometimes volume of sugar doesn't always translate to perceived "sweetness" due to other flavors or cooking method. Caramel, primarily sugar, can be burnt to be made quite bitter. Fresh fruit can widely vary in sweetness, even just depending on how ripe it is.

In the articles you reference, the sensory aspect is eluded to in that wines that taste sweet with dinner might be too dry to pair with dessert and then taste acrid.

The best way to identify pairings is to take a bit of a wild guess, and taste the pairing for yourself.

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  • It's probably true it's not measured to quantitatively and I won't find an answer to the specific question I posed. It's also my understanding that the pros have a very good intuition as to what works, then they try out the combination and adjust either or both suitably. I'll accept your answer, thanks!
    – Juho
    Jul 19 at 14:56

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