When it comes to dining, oftentimes so much emphasis is placed on the main course that one of the best parts of a meal—dessert—is overlooked.
Resting on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, Vann Restaurant in Spring Park not only offers elevated fine dining entrées, but it serves tempting desserts, as well. To go along with the sweet confections, Vann showcases some dessert wines as fitting accoutrements.
(Note: The menu changes based on ingredient availability, so be sure to view the lineup on its website before arriving, or relish in the surprise and arrive unawares of what awaits! “There’s never an agenda when it comes to our menu at the beginning of the week,” says executive chef Erik Skaar.)
Skaar is intentional about securing wines that pair well with the dessert lineup, even if it means adding in some experimentation. “At the beginning of the week, if we taste something new that we like, we’re going to roll with it,” he says. “It’s an experiment sometimes, but it’s what we have.”
The desserts at Vann aren’t overly sweet, so a dessert wine can bring a nice balance to the sweetness and acidity of the pairing. Consider the white chocolate bavarois, which Skaar describes as “a custard-panna cotta hybrid.” He further recommends Birichino muscat canelli to go along with the bavarois. “It has a higher alcohol content, which creates a higher viscosity,” Skaar says. “Custard is stickier and might cling to your tongue or mouth more, and that higher viscosity helps guide the custard down and really pairs well.”
Another dessert Vann offers is a strawberry chocolate rosé semifreddo. (This is a class of frozen desserts. Mostly, the main ingredients include egg yolks, sugar and cream. Think: the texture of frozen mousse.) Skaar recommends pairing this with Elk Cove ultima. This wine has a lower viscosity, which goes well with the frozen desserts. “The ultima also has a richer and earthier flavor,” Skaar says. “That flavor goes really well with the chocolate.”
While these wines pair well with the desserts, some wine can stand alone to anchor the end-of-meal experience. “Take a guy like me, for example,” Skaar says. “Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of desserts, so just a nice drink is a good way to cap off a meal.”
Looking at a list of desserts and wines and trying to figure out how to pair the two can be intimidating. Skaar says darker wines typically go well with chocolate, as they’ll have that earthier flavor like the ultima, whereas, a white wine won’t have those characteristics. Another item to remember is that higher viscosity wines pair well with a thicker dessert, and the lower viscosity wines marry with colder desserts, such as those with ice cream.
Skaar’s biggest tip when selecting a wine is to go with something you like. Just because a certain wine is (in theory) the perfect pairing for a dessert doesn’t mean you have to order it if you know it’s a wine you don’t typically favor. “Gravitate toward what you would normally drink,” Skaar says. “We’re here to guide you and your decisions, not lead you just because it pairs well on paper.”