Ice cream is America’s favorite dessert. There is no denying the fact that since the average American consumes 23 gallons of ice cream each year. Undoubtedly, one of the great joys of adulthood is the freedom of having ice cream whenever you want it while at the same time being old enough to pair that scrumptious Dark Chocolate Rocky Road with your favorite glass of wine! Get your taste buds ready for the perfect guide to ice cream and wine pairings.
The Challenge of Pairing Wine & Ice Cream
Many wine connoisseurs would argue that pairing ice cream with wine is impossible, given the challenges of matching wine with sweet foods. The tannins and acidity of the wine are the tricky part. Tannin-rich red wines can complement creamy, savory dishes, but when paired with creamy, sweet foods, the tannins provide a harsh taste and an unpleasantly dry finish. Also, while wine's acidity normally helps balance out the flavors of a savory food, mixing ice cream with an acidic wine may taste like you've mixed lemon juice with a milkshake.
Our Top Wine and Ice Cream Pairings:
Here are some general tips to help with your decision making, but everything ultimately comes down to personal tastes. Feel free to follow this article as a guideline, but you can always do some delicious experiments on your own to find the perfect wine ice cream combination for each culinary occasion where ice cream is a centerpiece dessert.
Lemon Ice Cream with Crisp Whites
This is a perfect pairing for those who don’t mind some extra acidity on their palate. Keep in mind that we’re talking about lemon ice cream, not lemon sherbert, because the creaminess is essential for this pairing to work. Crisp white wines with a particular minerality, earthy and flowery notes will undoubtedly accentuate the acidity of the lemon ice cream. Combining a Greek Asyrtiko from Santorini, a French Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand will be great pairings after your next stop at Ben & Jerry’s.
Pistachio Ice Cream with Dry Whites
This nutty ice cream definitely has some savory qualities which makes it a perfect match for dry white wines like a Riesling or a Viognier. The brightness of these wines will bring out the undertones of the nuts and vice versa, creating a mouth watering experience.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Sparkling Wines
Even without any toppings, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is still America’s #1 favorite. It can be quite elegant by itself, but imagine how enjoyable it will be with a wonderful glass of sparkling wine? Choose a style that isn't too dry but also not too sweet. A dry wine could mask the ice cream flavors, while a sweet one might overshadow the more subtle flavors. A sec or demi-sec champagne would be a fantastic match for your favorite vanilla ice cream.
Strawberry Ice Cream with Rosé Wines
This flavor matches perfectly with dry or sparkling rosé wines and it comes to no surprise. Not only is this combination wonderful to look at because the colors match each other, but the notes of fresh berries in rose wines will complement the ice cream.
What Ice Cream Goes With Red Wine?
It depends on the type of red wine you are drinking. We will walk you through different red wines and their perfect ice cream companion.
Cookies and Cream with Sweet Red Wines
Cookies and cream ice cream is delicious and easy to make at home. However, whether store bought or home-made, try pairing it with a sweet red wine. Not one that is over the top sweet like a Ruby Port, but something like a sweet South African Shiraz, that will enhance the sweetness of the ice cream without making you drink a gallon of water after every bite.
Coffee Ice Cream with Smooth Reds
Coffee and red wine have some characteristics that are very similar, therefore coffee ice cream would pair perfectly with a fine red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. The notes of spices and black cherries in the Cabernet will bring out the nuttiness of the ice cream. A velvety Merlot with its chocolate and vanilla flavors will make you feel like you’re drinking a double shot of fancy coffee.
Chocolate Ice Cream and Intense Red Wines
What is a great wine paring for everyone favorite……chocolate ice cream? Well, we are in luck, chocolate ice cream is already a step ahead because it matches perfectly with full-bodied red wines because they both contain lots of polyphenols. You'll want to combine your chocolate ice cream with a wine that's robust enough to stand up to the ice cream, but not so tannin-heavy that it leaves a bitter residue on your mouth. A Zinfandel with dark berry aromas would be ideal for this.
Ice Cream and Wine Pairing Conclusion
That about sums it up. With these broad wine and ice cream pairing guidelines you can certainly experiment with more exotic ice cream flavors. Just stick to the basic matching concepts. Good luck. Let us know if you find any pairings that you think are out of this world.