What wine goes with pumpkin pie?

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Some people think the most important part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is the turkey, but others argue it is dessert and the best wine to go with it.

French wines are displayed on sale at Union Square Wines in New York November 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies are the top choices for the U.S. holiday. Although there has been much discussion about whether red or white wine should be served with the main course, little time has been devoted to the best dessert wine.

Until now.

“The facts of dessert and wine tend toward the straightforward -- the wine should be sweeter than the dessert,” said Doug Frost, who holds the titles of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine. “And pie is pie, at least when you’re trying to pair it with wine.

The choice of wine, he suggests, depends on the pie filling. He would opt for something very sweet such as a German Beerenauslese or perhaps a Sauterne.

But Mary Ewing-Mulligan, the director of the International Wine Center in New York, said pumpkin, apple and pecan are very different and the choice of wine should reflect that.

“Pumpkin pie is somewhat spicy, apple pie is fruity and pecan pie is rather meaty - certainly it’s the most substantial.” she said.

For pumpkin pie she suggests a Madeira, because it has some spiciness and also a refreshing acidity to cut the creamy texture.

“A 10-year-old should be fine,” she said. “Alternatively, a tawny Port, which is far less fruity than a ruby-type Port, and can have nice complexity of flavor, including some faded dried fruits or even a bit of coffee character.”

She recommended a 10-year-old Croft, but Warre’s Otima or Dow’s 10-year old Port could do as well.

For pecan pie, she would select a substantial ruby-type Port, either a “vintage character” Port or a Late Bottle Vintage.

“For the first, maybe a Fonseca ‘Bin 27’ or for a LBV, 2003 is probably the current Fonseca vintage,” she said.

Sauternes can be terrific with apple pie, Ewing-Mulligan agreed, adding that they give a complimentary dimension of fruitiness. She suggested either Chateau Rieussec or Chateau Suideraut as “good options” that are widely available.

Bill Nesto, who teaches about wine and food pairing at Boston University’s Wine Studies Program, also believes sweetness is important. He recommended a Muscat fortified wine such as a Moscatel de Setubal from Portugal for the pumpkin.

But for apple pie, he suggested Riesling Auslese from Germany’s Mosel area, and to accompany pecan pie he suggested a 20-year-old Tawny Port from Portugal.

Other wines that are worth considering include Moscato di Scanzo, a rare, sweet red wine aged for two years, from the Lombardy region of Italy and Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls, which has the aromas of plum and black fruits and is reminiscent of a LBV Port.

Editing by Patricia Reaney