Part of the season of thankfulness through the season of gift-giving can be accompanied by more than roasted poultry traditions and its fair share of carby sides — it can also come with a plat d’accompagnement (side dish in French) mixed with laughable circumstances and uncomfortable criticisms. Dessert often gets portrayed as playing second fiddle to the mains, but the sugar rush part of the feast is just as fun to maneuver when it comes to wine pairings! Not to mention that in itself can help you take an imaginary intermission during the times you most need it.
Below is a list of wine pairings for those holiday pies and odd dinner encounters:
Pairs with Tawny Port & Awkward Silences or Small Talk
The fine, bittersweet nuttiness of this pairing might be the social buffer needed to power through those minutes of small talk and the filler for seconds of awkward silence at the dinner table. Neither are necessarily bad things, both can happen simply as results of the urge to navigate copious conversation topics and trying to find common ground views. When this catalysts into gossip and unwelcomed drama, Pecan Pie & Tawny Port might just help let it all fade into the background.
Sweet Potato Pie
Pairs with Sparkling Rosé and Dodging Cooking Insults
“Rosé All Day” could become a literal application when dealing with Uncle so-and-so’s repetitive critiques of your “dry” turkey, but what this versatile, food-friendly vino could also do is mentally cut through those piercing comments like it would with the fat-infused yet sweet, airy elements of Sweet Potato Pie. Plus, Sparkling Rosé comes in handy as it’s also versatile enough if you must double back on any stuffing or fried potatoes.
Pairs with Gewürztraminer and Backhanded Compliments
If you’re not familiar with Chess Pie, it’s an old-fashioned favorite (we can agree to disagree if you think not), similar to a custard pie, but remixed. It can get to be a gooey, nutmegy mess, but like how David Chang categorizes things under an “Ugly Delicious” umbrella, this can go into that “Ugly Delicious” grouping. Enter Gewürztraminer. While there are major sweet bombs out there, the drier, aromatic styles of this wine hold up to the substantial depth of a Chess Pie when paired together — just like holding your own when Auntie so-and-so fires out what she thinks are compliments but are insults in disguise. Whether that means you have the type of relationship where you fire back a “compliment” in return with gusto or simply hold your tongue is another story.
Apple Pie Crumble
Pairs with Riesling (Spätlese) and A Mother’s (or Father’s) Hug & Unwavering Confidence
Big, crushing hugs from mama and pops? Do they parade you around and boast with so much extraness you can feel the eyerolls from the adjacent rooms? Don’t get it twisted — you love them, and their hugs, and their extraness. Sweet, sour, and spice rolled into one, much like an Apple Pie Crumble. So what do you match to that? If you pick something too bold, you’ll end up with an exacerbated tannin bomb in your mouth. Cool off their edge (and yours) with the honeyed backdrop in a Spätlese style of German Riesling (vs. opting for a drier Trocken style), a complement to that baked crumble. The subtle acidity also allows for a bit of a palate cleanser, but is still sweet in nature when it comes down to it.
These pairings are in no shape or form to attempt to answer or “cure” family dynamics, but adding a little lightheartedness to weeks of holiday prep and cooking rituals seemed like one way to spark some joy. As always it isn’t a definitive list either or an end-all formula for pairing wines with dessert pies. If you have your own two cents, do share! We would love to hear.
Be ambitious or be simple. Have a little variation. Picking out wine shouldn’t have to stress anyone out. Context is a big part of pairing wine with food. But most importantly, it has to taste good to you! So to all the SWW tribe, have a fun and safe holiday season!