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Pumpkinless Thanksgiving Dessert and Wine Pairings

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the turkeys are starting to look really nervous. As popular a gastronomic adventure as Thanksgiving is, it sometimes seems that the favorite and most anticipated part of the meal is the dessert, yet it is the part to which the least attention is paid. That’s probably why most Thanksgiving desserts are so boring. Pumpkin this, and pumpkin that, and pies, pies and more pies. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to take this whole Thanksgiving dessert thing to a whole new level.

And don’t forget the wine. Every dessert has a wine match made in heaven, and if you’re going to experiment with desserts, then do it right.

Mix the right wine with the right sweets, drop some knowledge on your family and friends, and help them experience why the pairings are perfect. You’ll probably never have to eat the same old pumpkin pie again.

Sorry pumpkins. We’re just not that into you anymore. And while we’re at it, let’s lose the pecan and apple pies, too. Here are some alternatives, with perfect wines to pair.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

We might be over pumpkin, but cranberries are safe. The zesty nature of these berries, caramelized and baked into this cake infused with orange zest make the perfect Holiday crossover dessert. Although it’s almost impossible to properly pair cranberries with wine, this cake works amazingly well with a rich, pure, spicy and herbaceous Chateauneuf du Pape. Give it a try with Domaine de Monpertuis 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Classique – Rhone Blends Red Wine $39


Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Savory can still be practical for Thanksgiving dessert, and nothing says savory more than cheesecake. Give this nontraditional example of a classic cheesecake a try, and pair it with a good California Zinfandel. Paraduxx Z Blend (a Duckhorn winery) ($48) is a deep and powerful zinfandel, cabernet and merlot blend that mixes blueberry and cherry flavors with vanilla, clove molasses and black pepper. The balanced acidity mixes well with the sweetness of the carrot cake element.

 Flourless Chocolate Torte

For your gluten-free family and friends, but please, stop pairing dry reds with chocolate. It just doesn’t work. Instead, go sparkling. The depth of the chocolate in this torta can be powerful and needs a soft touch in the wine pairing selection. Adami Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica – Champagne & Sparkling is a creamy and delicate Prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy and has an excellent flower and fruit nose and wonderful balance of crisp spiciness. This will be chocolate’s new best friend.


Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

This is a stunning dessert and maybe more than you want to take on, but you will be rewarded. The mixture of flavors of the chocolate, raspberries and vanilla mousse are simply incredible. A dessert this powerful needs a fitting pairing. A Portuguese Madeira is perfect. Leacock’s Rainwater Madeira – Dessert Wine($17)is a delicious and smokey, medium-dry wine combining soft fruit flavors with a dry, nutty quality. This is a “go big or go home” pairing, so be ready for the richness and perfection.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Lemon Marmalade

If you want to stay easier and lighter, then this is one of those “easy as long as you do it right” classic and delicate Italian custards. The lemon essence of this dish is complemented by the honey and light fruit nature of the Italian Maculan Dindarello Moscato ($21). Made from 100% Moscato Fior d’Arancio grapes, this wine stays on the palate for a long time and adds a much-needed sweetness to the cream and citrus notes of the panna cotta.



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