The best wine pairing for fruit?

wine pairing

One of the sommelier’s biggest challenges in preparing a tasting flight and menu is the wine pairing with fresh or cooked fruit.

Fruit is sweet. It contains unrefined sugar, to various degrees depending on the type and ripeness of the fruit. And sweetness (sugar) is — for lack of a better word — wine’s enemy.

Why is that?

It’s because wine also has sugar in it. After all, wine is made from fruit — the grape. The driest wines in the world always have some sugar in them. Maybe it’s just 1-2 grams, or even less, of what we call residual sugar in the wine trade. But it’s there. And of course, the quality and enjoyability of the wine is gauged in part on the balance between the wine’s components: Alcohol, acidity, dry extract, and residual sugar.

(If you’re reading this blog you probably already know that fermentation is the process of yeast transforming sugar into alcohol; the resulting balance between the wine’s components is what makes each and every wine compelling — more or less — to drink).

Back when I was living in New York City and was just getting started in the wine business, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who taught me to pair fresh and cooked fruit with Moscato d’Asti. I can tell you from personal experience that the match always worked brilliantly.

Moscato d’Asti should always be a fresh and refreshing wine — on the nose and in the mouth. And that character works in tandem with the aromas and flavors of fruit. Moscato d’Asti is a sweet wine, with a lot of residual sugar. As a result, it’s never overwhelmed by the sweetness of the fruit.

Moscato d’Asti is EXTREMELY low in alcohol. And that’s one of the most interesting things about the wine pairing. Fruit is nearly always served at the end of the meal, when you generally don’t want a heavy wine. And the light alcohol doesn’t ever overwhelm the flavors of the fruit.

Quod erat demonstrandum!


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Jeremy Parzen
After obtaining his Ph.D. in Italian literature at U.C.L.A. in 1997, Jeremy Parzen moved to New York City where he shifted his focus to food and wine. By 1998, he was the chief wine writer for the English-language edition of La Cucina Italiana. In 2005, he published his annotated translation of Maestro Martino's 15th century cookery book, The Art of Cooking (University of California Press). In 2007, he launched his blog (named after the Venetian expression for two glasses of white wine). Since that time, he has published countless articles on Italian food and wine, including bylines for publications like Decanter and Wine and Spirits, which named him a "Master of Place" in 2017. Known for his humanist perspective onto the world of Italian enogastronomy, he works as wine and restaurant industry consultant from his home office in Houston, where he and his wife Tracie (a native Texan) are raising their two daughters. A former rock musician and songwriter, Jeremy continues to compose and record music with and for his family. He was honored to be named an Italian Association of Wine Merchants ambassador in 2018 for his "profound scholarship in the humanities, his great knowledge of winemaking, and his excellence in communications."


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