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Sweet Pairings

Halloween is the unofficial kickoff to a season packed with endless sweets. Caramel apples and pumpkin cheesecakes give way to pecan pies and spice cakes, only to be topped by holiday cookies and all manner of chocolate confections.

Choosing a wine to go with dessert can be tricky. Overly sweet flavors can easily overshadow the wine, while a bold wine may overwhelm a more mellow dessert. We’ve got some perfectly balanced suggestions to get you through the dessert season, plus a few tempting recipes that just might find their way onto your fall table.

Wary of finishing off a festive dinner with yet another pie? Try this lovely pumpkin cake instead. Play up the seasonal flavors by icing it with orange frosting, and serve with a glass of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. The wine’s toasted nut and spice accents play up the recipe’s cinnamon and nuts, while the hints of vanilla and butter are natural companions for any cake.

And while you’re branching out from pastry, why not swap out the ubiquitous apple pie for an apple batter cake? Packed with tart green apples, this simple cake embraces fall with freshly grated nutmeg and rum-soaked golden raisins.

Serve a slice with a glass of Late Harvest Chardonnay, Sonoma-Cutrer’s first offering in the limited-run Winemaker’s Reserve series. This sweet, balanced wine features fruit accents, floral notes and a bit of brown sugar. It also makes a fine pair for fruit tarts and crème brûlée.

Looking for a sweet finger food to pass around your party? Wow your guests with dried cherries in a pinot noir reduction spread on a heavenly bed of triple cream cheese and topped with a delicate sliver of crystallized ginger. Prepare the recipe with Sonoma-Cutrer’s Vine Hill Pinot Noir, then fill up your guests’ glasses with the same. With accents of black cherry and blackberry, this elegant, rich pinot is the perfect pairing.

When in doubt, reach for a bottle of The Cutrer. The list of flavor notes found in this rich and creamy Chardonnay reads like a dessert menu, with hints of baked apple, crème brûlée, butterscotch, caramel and even warm pie crust.

And remember, while it’s generally best to choose a wine that’s a bit sweeter than the dessert, you’ll ultimately want to find a balance between sweet and savory.

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