Food & Wine ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


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Beyond chocolate: A new idea for pairing wine with dessert

Posted on August 21, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

unnamed-4Kristie Sheppard | Special to The Sun

We all know wines pair well with food such as fish, beef, poultry, but we often overlook the opportunity to pair wines with other desserts. Yes, there are chocolate and wine pairings, but we shouldn’t forget treats like pies, donuts and cakes.

Kendyl Bilenkij, New Jersey native and private chef, is married to an Aussie, Andrew Bilenkij, who moved here almost a decade ago and is VP of Winemaking at Ledson Winery. Desserts are a unique part of summer, usually light, cool and refreshing, so we decided now is the perfect time to discuss dessert and wine pairings for the summer with Andrew and Kendyl.

We asked Chef Kendyl to make us a summer time dessert that pairs well with wine. She chose an Australian (or New Zealand depending on who you ask) classic – pavlova. Both countries take credit for the dessert. Pavlova is a light and refreshing dessert made with meringue, cream and fruits.

The meringue is made with sugar, cream, egg whites vanilla, cornstarch and a touch of vinegar then baked in the oven at a very low temperature for about an hour. Once cooled, top it with homemade whipped cream and seasonal fruits. Traditionally the cake is topped with kiwi, strawberries and passionfruit. Chef Kendyl used blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and passionfruit although she said any fresh and in-season fruit would be delicious.

Pairing wines with desserts can be challenging, especially when the dessert isn’t chocolate, but the expert had some great recommendations. Andrew says, “aromatic whites or sparkling wines pair well with desserts like pavlova.” Some of his top picks include:

  • Ledson Winery Russian River Sauvignon Blanc
  • Kieran Robinson Wines Viognier
  • Iron Horse Vineyards Brut Rosé

With summer still in the air, there’s no better time to serve up some pavlova or your favorite summer time dessert after a meal with family and friends. Pair dessert with one of the wines mentioned above and enjoy!

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