Since I have a lot of German ancestors and Germany is known for doing Christmas right, I thought it would be fun to try out a few German wines with German desserts to find the best pairings for you. And boy, did I! German desserts have both sweet and savory characteristics, which makes it fun to pair them with the large variety of German wines on the market. While there are tons of options when it comes to German desserts, I focused on three of the most iconic holiday desserts: lebkuchen, stollen, and marzipan.
Lebkuchen is actually pretty easy to pair because of its savory characteristics. While there is variety in the ingredients used, typically there are spices, honey, and nuts. My favorite wine with lebkuchen is Pinot Gris. The wine is slightly tart and the spices in the cookies help temper the tartness. Another good wine with lebkuchen is Gewürztraminer. This is a classic sweet white wine and dessert pairing that does not disappoint. There is a strong honey flavor in the wine that pairs very nicely with the honey and spices in the cookies.
Stollen is a rather sweet bread, somewhat like fruit cake in the U.S., but better. It has many of the same spices as lebkuchen but it is a good bit sweeter because of the dried fruit. While the wine pairs find with both Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, I liked it best with a Dornfelder. Dornfelder is a German grape that produces very dark red flavorful wine with a hint of spice and a good bit of depth. While it can be made dry, the one I had with stollen was a medium sweet wine with good body that stood up to the heavy bread. The pairing is well balanced, smooth, and easy to drink.
Marzipan. Oh, marzipan. This is a candy that you either love or love to hate. While marzipan can be made in many lovely shapes and colors and is a beloved German candy, especially around the holidays, it doesn’t have a great reputation in the U.S. It is incredibly sweet and has a strong almond flavor, but is surprisingly easy to pair with German wines. With Pinot Gris, the marzipan helped draw out the fruity flavors in the wine. It was incredibly sweet with Gwürztraminer, but if you love sweet pairings this is a good bet for you. And it was actually very well-balanced with the Dornfelder. Marzipan’s versatility with wine may just help it develop a following in the U.S.
So what do you think? What are the best German wine and dessert pairings?