Dessert Wine: Recommendations to Serve with Fruit Cobblers & Crumbles

It's hard to find someone who dislikes a good crumble at the end of a meal (or for a sinister midnight snack). asked our panel of wine experts to recommend a dessert wine to serve with fruit cobblers and crumbles:    

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To more accurately answer this question, it really does depend on the type of cobbler or crumble.  If the fruit base is red berry, then a red based dessert wine is called for.  My favorite, crumbles and cobblers are, however, apple and peach.  For those, a white grape based dessert wine makes sense.  I would look to those from the Loire valley in France.  For my money, the very best of these is from the Baumard winery and the Quart de Chaumes appellation.  Right now the 2005 and 2006 Baumard Quarts de Chaumes are available in the market.  2005 was a fantastic vintage in the Loire.  2006, while classic, is not far behind.  Both have great acidity that makes for a grand food match. 

Buy the 2005 Baumard Quarts de ChaumesAs a bonus, these wines are available in half bottle formats (375 ml).  A little dessert wine goes a long way.  A half bottle can serve 6 (maybe 8) people for dessert.  These wines are not inexpensive though.  A half bottle can cost $35.  Yet, this is one of the greatest bottles of wine in the world.  The wine has wonderful apple and peach notes with hints of vanilla.  It is slightly sweet but will not overpower a sweet dessert.  The acidity brings everything together wonderfully.  It is certain to be the hit of any dinner party.  - Loren Sonkin, Featured Contributor and the Founder/Winemaker at Sonkin Cellars.

Buy the 2007 Banfi Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa RegaleFruit based desserts can be a challenge when it comes to pairing wine. Pair a wine that is too sweet or heavy, and the fruit will taste too tart. Select a wine that is too dry and the wine will taste acidic, harsh and thin. On the vinous side, I personally like to end the meal on a lighter, more uplifting note. For this reason, a sparkling, delicately sweet wine is my choice for pairing fruit cobblers and crumbles. For desserts that utilize fruits such as apples, peaches or pears, I would suggest a a light sparkling Muscat based white from the Rhone Valley like the NV Raspail Clariette de Die ($17.99). For dark fruit or berry based desserts I recommend deeply pink and deliciously juicy 2007 Banfi Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa Regale ($19.99). - Mulan Chan, Rhône and French Regional Buyer, K&L Wine Merchants

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Buy the 2004 Louis Guntrum Penguin EisweinPenguin’s in the Summer? Well, yes, when it comes to wine, here is one ice drink that won’t melt away in the sun. Eiswein, also known as Icewine, has everything you crave in a dessert wine. There are plenty of copycats being made in Canada and even China but the true believer goes for the original, the German Eiswein. A “proper” Eiswein has to be frozen on the vine for at least 36 hours before it is deemed pure enough to be picked and, get this, the true purists will only harvest it on a rare full moon! What a load of cobblers you may well think and you are half way right at that because it is with such summer crumblers that I highly recommend the eiswein elixir. If you want to try the real thing, the full moon harvested, three day frozen, crushed still frozen, look for the Louis Guntrum’s Penguin Eiswein. And the best bit, unlike the over hyped, over promoted marketing phenomenon’s of the Niagra peninsula, the true and truly superior German Eisweins can be found at a fraction of the price, yes, sir, just $62 for the most exquisite flavors that nature can provide. - Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO, Broadbent Selections, San Francisco

Buy the 2000 Disznókó Tokaji Aszú 5 PuttonyosFurmint. Specifically I recommend the Disznókó Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos (2000) (About $35). Cobblers are notorious for their sweet, rich texture. Furmint is one of those wines that both cuts the sugars of a cobbler and rejuvenates the palate for another bite. One of my favorite wines. The only thing that would top this pairing is a second helping. Serve slightly chilled. - Ben Spencer, Cellar Master at Bernardus Winery and IntoWine Featured Writer

This weekend, I had blueberry cobbler, peach cobbler and dreamed about apple crumb cake. If you ask me, the best part of cobbler is the crumble. The fruit is just an added bonus. Cobblers are usually made with berries or stone fruits. They can be really sweet or restrained in sugar so that will influence the type of wine you would want to drink with it. Often, ice cream, typically vanilla, is plopped on top, where it melts all over the crunch and fruit so keep this in mind when thinking about a dessert wine to pair.

Buy Brachetto d'AcquiI wrote about Moscato d’Asti in my Summer Whites blurb so I don’t want to be redundant however especially with a peach or apricot cobbler, you won’t find anything better. Brachetto d’Acqui, the red version of Moscato d’Asti made from the Brachetto grape, is awesome with cherry and berry cobblers.

One rule is that your dessert wine should always be sweeter than your dessert. Not everyone subscribes to this however I use it as a flexible guideline.  Like savory dishes, you should consider the texture of dessert when pairing wine and food together. I can tell you right away I would not do a red dessert wine like a port or late harvest Zinfandel. Texturally it would be a mess. Some fortified wines might work, like an Oloroso sherry (especially if nuts are in the cobbler) but my first choice would be a late harvest white wine made from an aromatic grape varietal like Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Viognier.

Buy Schneider WinesGiven that one of my favorite desserts in the world is blueberry cobbler with really good vanilla ice cream, I’m going to use that as my model. Gewurztraminer is noted for its spice and lychee nut aromas. I think that this would make a nice contrast to my blueberry cobbler and maybe even bring out some of the baking spices in the crumble. I’d go for the Schneider Gewurztraminer Auslese, Niersteiner Olberg, 2006 from the Rheinhessen. With lychee nut, wintergreen, rose petal and spicy aromas that lead to melon, lychee nut, apricot fruit, it is just sweet enough to go with a cobbler yet has the acidity to match the cream (whether it be iced or fresh) and match all the components of the dish. - Pamela Busch, Owner/Wine Director, CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen, San Francisco