Don’t Forget the Dessert!

By: Kristie Sheppard

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

Kendyl Bilenkij, New Jersey native and private chef (you may recall the article from February featuring her winter vegetable recipe) is married to an Aussie, Andrew Bilenkij, who moved here almost a decade ago and is VP of Winemaking at Ledson Winery. Summer time 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 in full swing here in the States, 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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