Best Wine Pairings With Lemon Tarts

Lemon tarts make you pucker just thinking of them but don’t be fooled by the amount of sugar in the filling.

The rule of thumb when pairing wines with food, especially desserts is that the wine must be sweeter than the food or it makes the wine taste bitter. In the case of a lemon tart, it has high level of sweetness from added sugar and natural high acidity from the lemons.

The sharp lemon notes in the tart will wipe any citrus flavours and sweetness out of any typical dessert wine as it just hasn’t got the right amount of residual sugar or acidity to hold up to it.

The best wine pairing suggestions will have to contain searing acidity and a high level of residual sugar. Ice wine made with Riesling, or a Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese are affected by noble rot/botrytis (meaning the grapes have been kept on the vine much longer and are individually picked in a dried-up shrivelled state like a raisin).

The wines made from these grapes work perfectly because they are very sweet and have an intensely rich honey suckle flavour. Sauternes dessert wines could work; however, they do not have the searing levels of refreshing acidity that Riesling brings to the table. Ice wine made with Riesling grapes is an excellent choice because it will mirror the high acidity of the lemons and the 220 g/l of residual sugar will match the sweetness added to make the filling.

There will be a cleansing effect with a Riesling icewine as the floral notes of the Riesling will contrast beautifully with the lemon filling. The floral-citrus marriage will provide a longer length on your palate. The lemon citrus character in this dessert along with the pie crust can be enhanced by a dollop of cream which will help broaden the choices for pairing, (such as including a Sauvignon Blanc dominant Sauterne, or Chardonnay Auslese from Austria, or late harvest dessert wine) but the wine must always be sweeter and have a high level of acidity to work with a true lemon tart.

Canada is the world’s largest and highest quality producer of Ice Wine in the world. Riesling grapes stay on the vine with a much longer hang time and can only be picked while frozen on the vines at -8 degrees Celsius. Top BC producers of Ice Wines are Summerhill Pyramid WineryInniskillinJackson Triggs, Mission Hill Family Estate WineryNk’Mip Winery and Geringher Brothers. Ontario also has many world-class award-winning producers such as Inniskillin, Pelee Island Winery, Pilliteri Estates, Ziraldo Estate Winery, Equifera Estate Winery and Reif Estates.

Trockenbeerenauslese sweet wines are made in Germany and can be ordered through the BC Liquor Distribution Branch. A favourite producer is Dr Thanisch from Mosel, Germany. ENJOY!

Katherine McEachnie, DipWSET

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