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Dec 30, 2007 08:34 AM

Tirismisu Pairing

What would be suggested to go with Tirimisu? Open to almost anything....

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  1. A classic answer would be Vin Santo or Torcolato, and both are very nice...

    But I actually prefer the Muscat family here over both of them...

    There are alot of Tiramisu recipes, but the classics all "center" on Bitter-dark chocolate, cocoa, Espresso (or Coffee Liqueur), and some additional liqueur be it Brandy, Amaretto, Marsala, Grand marnier, etc... in a base of Mascarpone, Eggs and Sugar...

    Richer muscats (Muscat Liqueur, Black or Orange Muscat) are ideal matches for Coffee and Darker Chocolate. If the recipe has a hint of vanilla they match that very well, if amaretto/hazelnut they match it, and particularly if the recipe has an "orange" angle to it... grand marnier or other orange essence, muscat is great there...

    For some palates, a sweeter sherry may also be a nice match here.

    1. 20-year-old tawny port is the best match I've discovered for tiramisu. I've tried plenty...
      would also recommend malmsey Madeira. Both entertwine in a lovely way with the coffee,
      chocolate and whipped cream/mascarpone.

      1 Reply
      1. re: maria lorraine

        If you're going with sherry or Madeira, both are sublime with concentrated fruit and nuts... for a real flavor explosion add some finely-crushed hazelnuts and x-soaked raisins (rum, brandy, etc.) to the tiramisu layers.

        1. re: chrisinroch

          Agree with espresso or a French Pressed coffee (maybe a Kenya AA).

          1. re: TonyO

            Yeah, i love wine and dessert wine in particular, but sometimes you are just trying to wedge a wine pairing in where it doesnt really belong

            1. re: chrisinroch

              Coffee is an excellent suggestion. What I've experienced with the 20-year tawny
              is that it is really lovely with mocha -- that mixture of coffee and chocolate that's created by the dish. Malmsey (sweetness level) Madeira actually takes the intensity of the dish a bit further; it's a case of the wine becoming the sauce for the dish. It enhances dark chocolate really well, caramel, coffee. Not too many other wines work with this, and yes, to your point, chrisinroch, there are times when a wine pairing is wrong: beer, coffee, water, lemonade are better choices. Happy New Year.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                went with a muscat, it was enjoyable, but a bit too much by one in the morning after all the wine and champagne and port. oh well....back to the couch & the headache.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    Yalumba museum muscat, it was my only option, did not want to run around, did not go to my usual wine store.

                    1. re: cleopatra999

                      That's a nice aussie... it also matches a dark chocolate very well...

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        will keep that in mind, we still have a lot of it left. and I love dark chocolate! how long can it last suctioned & refrigerated?

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          Just a differing opinion...that particular Muscat pairs extremely well with candied apricots, orange zest -- something in the concentrated fruit realm,
                          and toffee, particularly. Chocolate would be far down the list for me. A baked fruit dessert with brown sugar would also work well. Experiment if you're able and see what sings to you. My guess is that the wine will last about a week (possibly longer), much longer than a wine usually would because of its high sugar.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Oh if that is the case, then persimmon pudding is the way to go!!! I wonder if I can get that muscat in my neck of the woods?

                            1. re: moh

                              It was part of the SAQ's November *Cellier* release and can still be had at various outlets around the city, including the one nearest you. I found it tooth-achingly sweet -- a wine/liqueur to sip by the thimbleful -- and can't imagine serving it alongside a sweet or rich dessert. The nose is a fabulous swirl of fruit cake, toffee and raisin aromas.

                              1. re: carswell

                                Oh, that was why I was thinking it would go well with the persimmon pudding, which is not so sweet, but is rich. The edges get a wonderful toffee flavor as it bakes, and there are lovely toasted walnuts in the pudding which might go well with the muscat. I had thought that it was important to have a dessert wine which was sweeter than the actual dessert?

                                1. re: moh

                                  I find that, beyond a certain level of sweetness, dessert wines are best consumed on their own. But then again -- my Cocoa Locale addiction notwithstanding -- I'm not a fan of sweets. YMMV.

                                  That the Yalumba is beyond a certain level is pretty much beyond debate. *Moelleux* wines generally have no more than 45 g/l of residual sugar. Yquem usually falls in the 100-150 g/l range. Five-puttonyos Tokaj has 120 g/l, six-puttonyos 150 g/l. The Yalumba clocks in at 243 g/l (the "wine" is essentially unfermented late-harvest grape juice fortified with neutral spirits -- little to none of the juice's sugar is converted to alcohol -- and further concentrated by extended barrel aging). Combine that level of sugar with raisinated Muscat's relatively low acidity (relative to, say, Chenin Blanc) and you get a liquid that, to my palate, is cloying in anything but the tiniest of sips and that doesn't provide what I look for in an accompaniment to dessert: refreshment. Personally, I'd serve coffee with tiramisu or persimmon pudding and a small glass of the liqueur muscat on its own as a digestif.

                                  1. re: carswell

                                    Thanks for this. I did not recall it was that super-sweet and with such low acidity. Yikes.

                                2. re: carswell

                                  Carswell, do you think the wine's sweetness would be moderated by an off-sweet or tart-sweet dessert?

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    Maybe it's the seasonal influence but the pairing that keeps suggesting itself to me is a dryish and not-too-sweet fruitcake heavy on the walnuts. Dunno about tart-sweet. What do you think?

                                    1. re: carswell

                                      Geez. I wouldn't recommend this wine at all now. Not if it's cloying-sweet.

                                      Fruitcake might work since the wine itself is rather fruitcake-y in flavor. In reference to tart-sweet or off-sweet, sometimes a too-sweet wine pairs passably with an unsweet dessert -- the wine provides the sweetness for the dessert.
                                      But if this is a low-acid wine (if it can be considered a wine at all instead of a manipulation of fruit juice and spirits), I'm ready to walk away entirely from it.

                                      What's left of Cleo's Yalumba could be used as waffle syrup (and no, I'm not entirely kidding) or in baking. That's what I'd do. I'd macerate some fruit in the Yalumba, and then bake that fruit with a walnut streusel topping, perhaps drizzling a bit of the wine over the dessert as you assemble it -- you get the idea.

                              2. re: maria lorraine

                                Great post!

                                Just goes to show you how widely palates vary on the subject of chocolate and wines. Maria finds muscat "far down the list" for chocolate at first and then "wouldn't recommend it at all..." and would instead "use it for waffle syrup".... but loves it for toffee...

                                Here's an article of a chocolate/wine tasting series by Karen Hochman of The Nibble who finds just the opposite... darker muscats with darker chocolates, lighter moscato (d'asti) with milder and milk chocolates.... but favors tokaji, sherries, madeira, etc. with toffee:


                                Below is the article "Pairing Wine with Chocolate" from Gourmet Sleuth... note Calif. Orange and Black Muscats with Lighter Chocolate, Muscat dBdVenise with lighter to medium, and Austrailian Liqueur Muscats with "heavy dark rich chocolate desserts"

                                Below, Mary Leonard of Chocolat Celeste, a very high-end chocalatier, prefers:

                                Moscato d'Asti with White Chocolates
                                California Black Muscat with Bittersweet Chocolate


                                Ms. Leonard isn't alone in preferring cognac and armagnac with the very darkest chocolates...

                                And leave it to the Rutherglen Muscat Network to declare: "...Rutherglen Muscat is unsurpassed as a match to chocolate – it will not be overpowered by even the richest of dark European styles...."


                                Palates vary widely on the subject, as we can see from the board..... Everything from the perfect match with a wide range of chocolate to Marias advice to "use as waffle syrup".... a fascinating range of opinion!

            2. This particular Muscat. Not all Muscats. Specificity as to which Muscat is important.

              "that particular Muscat pairs extremely well with candied apricots, orange zest -- something in the concentrated fruit realm, and toffee, particularly. Chocolate would be far down the list for me."

              But since additional information revealed that this particular Muscat is not well-made,
              I can't recommend it.

              4 Replies
              1. re: maria lorraine

                Again, this just shows how widely palates vary on the subject!

                You find this wine to be "not at all well-made", yet it has won the following awards in blind tastings:

                Gold and Best of Class at the 2000 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition
                Gold at the San Francisco Wine Competition
                Gold and Best of Class at the 2000 National Orange Wine Show
                and the Wine Advocate writes: "96 Points. A killer value, it offers aromas of melted toffee, brandy-macerated raisins, prunes...and ripe figs"

                And from the following link of comments by 38 tasters on Cellar Tracker, the average score was 93.2:

                I also found very interesting the comments from another poster wrt whether the wine or the dessert should be sweeter... another subject you'll find a healthy range of debate on!

                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  hmmmm....all very interesting. in fact so interesting that i had to pour myself a glass to taste it again, as at that point in new years was quite far along in the imbibing. I am a huge late harvest and sauterne (sp?) fan with the right dessert. I have shied away recently from ports and this might well be my first ever muscat. I would not call it sickly sweet (ie. ice wine....IMO yuck). I actually find it quite well balanced. But, I still cannot see it with the tirimisu, I think that would be too much, but I can definitely picture it with some dark chocolate or maybe even a panacotta? I am quite enjoying it on its own though!

                  I have my husband coming home with some dark chocolate to try with it. I will report back later.

                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    For a nice impromptu taste test... get a bottle of moscato d'asti, at the other end of the intensity spectrum...

                    And a range of chocolate from white to very dark...

                    Ideally add a "medium intensity" muscat like beaumes de venise in as well...

                    This will allow for matching all along the chocolate spectrum and seeing how the pairings vary along with it.

                    1. re: Chicago Mike

                      I liked the muscat better alone than with the chocolate, but the chocolate was not very good. hubby stopped at Mac's, not a lot of option there. will have to come back to it with a better 70% or higher dark. I like the tasting idea, however after the holidays I need a break from the sweet stuff so I may need to revisit that in a few months!

              2. So, I went out and bought the Yalumba Museum Muscat (prior to seeing Carswell's response), as i was out and about and the liquor store is just too close. I had already made the persimmon pudding. So I matched them, and here are my thoughts.

                1. This particular muscat is nothing like the muscats I have tried in the past. It resembles port. It seems atypical.

                2. It is very sweet. Thanks for the info Carswell, very enlightening.

                3. It actually went very well with the pudding. The pudding is not very sweet, but it is rich. The toffee flavours went very well with the toffee notes in the Muscat, and the sweetness of the wine complemented the cooked-fruitiness of the pudding. The walnuts in the pudding were also a welcome match. Carwsell, I understand your point about looking for refreshment from the accompanying drink, and I can emphatically say that the Muscat did NOT provide any refreshment. If anything, the Muscat was very much like a sauce (echoing Maria Lorraine's thoughts), and it worked. The most refreshing part of the whole thing was the whipped cream (oh dear, what does that say?). There was little or no acidity in the Muscat, but it was not missed in this pairing. I think the key in this pairing was that fact that the dessert isn't that sweet. Now I know it sounds like the whole experience was a cloyingly sweet inedible affair, but honestly, it was quite well balanced. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm planning to repeat the experience tonight, and I am looking forward to it.

                One caveat: I would not serve this dessert after a large multicourse rich meal. It would be too much. But after a simple, light New-year-resolution-diet meal, it's going to be perfect! (oh dear. this diet thing is just not working out. I wonder how this dessert would be after a bacon tasting...)

                Cleopatra, looking forward to your next report on the chocolate pairing. I was going to try that last night, but I went into food coma and zonked out.