Candlelight Cove Light Show at Candlelight Winery

I love the holidays – friends, family, food and plenty of desserts! But being a dry red wine drinker, desserts do not always seem to pair well with the wine. So what options do you have for those holiday treats – besides either giving up wine or giving up dessert – let me give you some options.

For sweet wine drinkers, the wine should be as sweet as or sweeter than the dessert; otherwise the wine might taste bland or watery. Ice wines are usually a nice touch to the dessert table and can be drizzled over some pies or ice cream. Also try including some sweeter blush wines that are full of the “grape” flavors. Some of my favorites include a Pink Catawba wine or Concord or Niagara wines.

If you don’t want to go as sweet as an ice wine, I recommend trying a late harvest Riesling or Gewürztraminer. If you have a spicy pumpkin pie or heavy gingerbread cake, a late harvest wine will bring out the spice flavors in the cake. Late harvest wines are also great to have on hand between dinner and dessert. The transition from a heavy meal to sweet desserts will lessen with the sweeter wine.

If you happen to be serving scones or biscotti, I recommend pairing these desserts with a drier wine or a fruit wine. My favorite wine with biscotti is a bold and heavy Cabernet while if I am having a scone with nuts or fruits, I like to pair it with a lighter fruit wine like Peach or Apple.

But all of the choices above don’t really solve my problem of drinking dry red wines so in my case, I make sure that I have a dark chocolate dessert on hand too. The pairing of a dark chocolate cake or fondue really brings out the flavors in some of my favorite Chianti’s or Sangiovese’s. If you are making some of the desserts, I recommend using ½ cup of some of these wines in the batter for some of cakes and cookies. The wine will keep the dessert moist while adding a new sweetness to it.

If you have a full dessert tray, I recommend placing a couple of bottles of wine on the table so you and your guests can pair your favorite dessert with your favorite wine. If you need any help pairing the dessert with the wine, feel free to drop some desserts off at the winery and I will be more than happy to help with the tasting!!!!

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville.  For more information on other wine topics  please visit

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Amanda Conkol and her husband Chris are the owners of Candlelight Winery in Garrettsville, Ohio. Amanda’s passion for wine is evident in her weekly column “Notes From The Vineyard”, but that’s not all Amanda is passionate about. She maintains a full schedule raising twin daughters, working a day job consulting as an IT Project Manager and is the Girl Troop Leader for her daughters’ troop. When time allows Amanda loves to travel (especially to Disney World) and go for runs throughout Nelson Township.