Wine Pairing With Baklava Tips

Apr 9, 2021

Pairing the right wine with your dessert is challenging even for experienced wine lovers. But when you compound it with a dessert as complex and rich as baklava, it’s a truly daunting task. 

And yet, not impossible. 

The key is to understand a few crucial things about baklava and about dessert wines. And you’re in luck because we put together this short guide to teach you those things. 

Read on!

Baklava Origin Story

The ancestral origin of baklava is debatable. Many areas claim to be the source of the dessert, but there’s no question that it has been enjoyed in Greece for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. 

However, layered baklava and baklava rolls aren’t exclusive to Greece. It’s commonly found all over the middle east and the Balkan nations. 

If you’ve ever had baklava before, you know it’s characterized first and foremost a dense sweet syrup. And that syrup is primarily what makes wine and baklava such a difficult combination. A wine that can’t stand up to it can easily get completely lost in the mix. 

But, notwithstanding the baklava origin debate, any type you choose will present a bit of a chess match to pair it with the right wine.  

Types of Baklava

Baklava is made with layers of phyllo dough interspersed with pistachios, walnuts, or other tree nuts and covered in sweet syrup. Those fundamental aspects remain the same in all its variations. The differences mostly come in the form of different presentations and the folding style of the phyllo. 

Rolled baklava is the kind that we prefer at Lemon and Vine, and it’s the most convenient presentation and the easiest to portion. And with baklava, portion size is important. You’d be surprised at how little is enough to satisfy your craving. 

What’s more, baklava rolls are ideal for holding all the ingredients together, so you get a perfect bit every time. 

rolled baklava on dark background with copy space

Layered baklava is usually made in a large baking dish and portioned after it’s done. If you’re preparing baklava from scratch, it’s the easiest way to feed a crowd but hardly convenient when you just want a quick dessert for one or two people. 

Triangle baklava is also layered instead of rolled but shaped into triangles. It’s a good alternative to rolls that don’t offer the same structure and even ingredient distribution.

Wine and Baklava — An Unlikely Pair

The so-called dessert wines are less popular than their traditional counterparts. As a consequence, you can sometimes find high-quality dessert wines for much less than a dry wine of the same caliber. 

There’s no strict definition of what is or isn’t a dessert wine, but as their name indicates, they tend to be sweeter wines that are paired with desserts. Some people also like to replace dessert with a glass of sweet wine, making it a very broad term. 

The kinds of desserts that usually go well with wine are simple ice creams, dark chocolate, and other subtle foods. In contrast, baklava is anything but subtle, which makes wine pairing with baklava so challenging. 

Your first choice comes down to either trying to match the baklava’s complex layers of flavor and texture with an equally dense and fortified wine or cushion the blow with a lighter wine to create a pleasing contrast. 

What Wine Goes Best With Baklava

With those basic ground rules in place, let’s move into some specifics. Wine pairing is more art than science, so instead of just pointing out the right wine to use, it’s always best to give people a few choices. 

Many wines pair perfectly with baklava rolls, in theory. But as a general rule, it’s usually better to drink wine you personally enjoy than to drink the “correct” wine. To that end, here are some of our favorite wine and baklava pairings. 

Ice Wines to Pair With Baklava

Ice wine refers to a process rather than any specific variety of grape, and it’s made from grapes that are allowed to stay on the vine until they freeze. When the grapes are pressed while still frozen, the result is less wine that’s far more concentrated. 

It’s a touchy and risky process, which is why ice wines can be quite expensive. However, if you want a baklava wine pairing that has a chance of keeping up, consider a Cabernet Franc ice wine. 

Frozen grape on white background

Tawny Port Wines

Ports are a type of fortified sweet wine originating in Portugal, and they’re squarely in the dessert category for most people. They’re semi-sweet, rich, and full-bodied. 

As far as dessert wines go, tawny ports are on the dry side and more about making a strong flavor statement. If you were choosing whether to contrast or complement your rolled baklava, tawny ports would definitely contrast with the heavy sweetness. But a 10-year tawny port is likely to have enough presence to avoid being completely overshadowed.

Moscato Wine Pairing With Baklava

Now for a varietal that accentuates the fact that you’re having a dessert. Moscato wines are fairly popular all around the world, especially among younger wine fans, because they’re sweet and tend to have lower alcohol content. 

Just about any dessert Moscato will do the trick. But if you want to really lean into the sweetness, Rutherglen Muscat is an excellent wine. Its fanbase is very particular, so if you’re entertaining guests, have a backup wine in reserve in case the Rutherglen is too sweet. 

Banyuls Baklava Wine Pairing

Banyuls wine will probably be the most difficult to get a hold of from this short list, but it’s the most nuanced of the bunch. It’s a light wine in every respect. Sweet but not too sweet, bright but not tangy, and features a light body. 

It’s the kind of wine that you can pair with just about anything without having to worry about overdoing it. Since baklava has such big flavors, your baklava wine pairing can stand to be light and fresh in contrast. 

Sauternes Wines With Baklava

Sauternes dessert wines tend to be very sweet and have many complex tropical fruit and spice flavors. Every glass is almost a dessert in its own right, so it should have no trouble complementing baklava with character to spare. 

It’s not the cheapest kind of wine, but it won’t break the bank either. You can expect to pay around $30 for a quality bottle of Sauternes. 

Enjoy Your Baklava Rolls With The Perfect Wine

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the wines that could pair well with baklava. But it’s a representative sample of what kinds of wines you might want to try. If you don’t find one you like after trying these, you’ll at least have a good idea of what you’re after. 

But the wine is just an addition; having crispy, flaky, rich, and satisfying baklava to go with it is just as important. And we’ve got you covered.

Order now from our online store or find our delicious baklava rolls in the frozen foods aisle of your local market. 

Leave us a comment with the wine that worked out for you from the list above!

Until next time, 

Kalí óreksi!

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