Title:Culinary writer, cookbook author and president elect of the San Francisco Professional Food Society
Home town: Scarsdale, NY. Living in the Bay Area since 1978
1. How did the idea come about for The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook?
Co-author Mary Cech and I developed the idea together. We met at a chocolate class for culinary professionals and it turned out we both wanted to write a book. We talked about a lot of ideas, but when we hit on pairing wines with dessert, we realized that was the one, because it really hadn’t been done before.
2. What was your role in the book?
I’m primarily the writer in the pair. We both researched the wine and the matches. My job was to make sure the recipes that Mary created were easy for people to make at home.
3. How did you test the recipes?
I made each recipe at least once and often many times. Then we had a large team of recipe testers who tested the recipes under different circumstances, in different geographic areas with different equipment in different kitchens. The testers were great. One woman was a baker. She and her husband had a wine store and he’d send me his wine tasting notes with every recipe!
4. What common misconceptions are there about pairing wine and dessert?
The dessert that is most often mismatched is probably wedding cake and Champagne. It won’t hurt the cake but the Champagne tastes flat and sour. I would suggest using a demi-sec Champagne. The other common mistake is pairing chocolate with Champagne or Cabernet. The Cabernet won’t taste right with it. Port is an obvious match, but there are lots of other chocolate friendly wines like a fortified Zinfandel Port, a Cabernet Port or a Banyul.
In general, the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. For example slightly sweet salty nuts with a sherry pick up the nutty flavors in the wine. A special wine should get a special dessert but a simple one, nothing that would overshadow it. If you had a 1998 Chateau d’Yquem you might want a plain creme brulee with it that has creamy and caramel flavors.
5. What wines do you recommend with something complex like tropical fruits?
There are lots of magical pairings for tropical fruits. Tropical fruit based desserts paired with Beringer Nightingale Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc Semillon are gorgeous together. But they’re also lovely with ice wines.