Who says we can’t pair ice cream and wine? Experts have long preached that it’s the “impossible pairing,” generally because of the low temperature of the ice cream. But this week I set out to find the ideal pairings because our relationship with ice cream is changing quickly as summer comes to an end. There is just something about outdoor grilling, picnics and summer fun that ice cream completes. Some might even argue ice cream is a dessert of necessity. Take the same bowl of ice cream in winter and, though delicious, it often involves snuggling under a blanket around a fire. (Not so bad a situation but you get my point.)
The low temperature, sweetness, acidity and tannic structure are the misfits with wine and ice cream. Most wines have a good deal of acidity and the pairing sometimes can taste like you poured lemon juice over the ice cream. Tannin levels also are important because the delicate sweet notes of the dessert are often swept away by the dryness and bitterness.
Always up for a challenge, my exploration found these to fit the pairing guidelines, whether the wine/ice cream dessert is enjoyed outside on a sunny patio in these last days of summer or snuggled up in the winter cold.
Possibly my favorite ice cream pairing is vanilla with Pedro Ximenez (PX). Some like to have a glass of this wine while eating a scoop, but I think the best approach is to dive right in by pouring the wine over the ice cream. PX is a very sweet sherry from Jerez and Morilla Montilles in Spain.
Most of us love chocolate with any pairing, but add a semi-sparkling dessert wine and you possibly have perfection. The best is with a semi-sparkling wine showcasing a taste of red berries.
Butter pecan ice cream has rich toasty and nutty flavors that mimic most buttery oaked chardonnay styles. To make the pairing even more complex add crushed pecans as your topping.
As with almost all rose wines they match into most desserts but seem to excel with strawberry ice cream. Many rose wines have tastes of strawberries and raspberries pairing into the ice cream flavors.
- 2014 Montes Classic Chardonnay, Chile (about $11 retail)
- 2014 Banfi Rosa Regale, Italy (about $16 retail)
- 2014 Hogwash Rose, California (about $18 retail)
- NV Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Spain (about $27 retail)