My top pairings with strawberries
With Wimbledon kicking off this week, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying a bowlful or two of strawberries. But what to drink with them?
The classic pairing of champagne is to my mind too dry unless the champagne is rosé or demi-sec but there are plenty of other possibilities depending on how you serve your berries.
Unsweetened strawberries or served plain with a little sugar
Perfectly ripe berries, especially wild strawberries can be delicious with an off-dry sparkling wine such as Moscato d’Asti, Asti, Extra Dry prosecco or even a sparkling white zinfandel or Australian sparkling rosé like Jacob’s Creek. You could also serve them the French or Italian way macerated in a light red wine such as Beaujolais with a little sugar - a (reasonably) healthy alternative to cream!
Strawberries and cream
The perfect foil for a classic dessert wine such as Sauternes or (more economically) Muscat-de-Beaumes-de-Venise. Alternatively if you don’t want to serve wine you could choose a contrasting but complementary well-chilled fruit juice such as passionfruit or mango.
Light airy strawberry desserts such as mousses, soufflés or gâteaux
Demi-sec or rosé Champagne or similar sparkling wine.
Strawberry tarts or shortcakes
The additional sweetness you get from the pastry or shortbread means your wine needs to be sweeter. Sauternes or similar wines from the Bordeaux region will probably work but I’d be inclined to go for a luscious new world botrytised or late harvest semillon or sauvignon. Sweet wines from the Loire such as Coteaux du Layon can also work well
Strawberries with meringue such as a pavlova, sundae or Eton Mess
Light and airy but typically sweeter than a gateau. A sweet wine with good acidity such as a late harvest or Beerenauslese riesling can be good or try a strawberry or raspberry liqueur topped up with champagne (like a kir royale or strawberry or raspberry bellini)
I really enjoy fruit flavoured beers with the rich but slightly savoury flavour of cheesecake and a strawberry beer such as the Belgian Fruli is quite perfect. It would also be a good choice if you served strawberries with mascarpone. (If you can’t get hold of a strawberry beer try a cherry or raspberry-flavoured one)
Strawberries with dark chocolate
If strawberries are served with or dipped in chocolate the chocolate becomes the key element to match. I would choose a sweet vin doux naturel such as a Maury. (You don’t want quite as intense a red fruit flavour as you would look for with a chocolate and cherry dessert)
Strawberries with orange
Strawberries and orange have a surprising affinity but will tend to strip out the fruit flavours in any accompanying dessert wine. Try a frozen shot of Cointreau or a small glass of Pimms No 1 Cup, made slightly stronger than usual.
Strawberry ice creams and sorbets
Matching wine to ice cream can be tricky unless there are other elements to the dessert and you are simply serving a scoop in place of cream. I quite like to serve a chilled liqueur that will pick out the fruit flavours such as a delicate, strawberry-flavoured ratafia di fragola (Carluccio’s used to do a delicious one - I’m not sure if they still do)
Since I first wrote this article a couple of years ago there's a new generation of pink moscatos and other sparkling reds and rosés which would work really well too. See these suggestions in my Guardian column
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