How to Pair Wine With Just About Any Berry

Summer marks the start of the season for most berries. Whether you enjoy tart raspberries, sweet strawberries or others, here's how to pair them with the perfect wine.
Photo by Tom Arena

Depending on where you live, summer might start with the first strawberries of June and end around Labor Day, with coffee cans full of wild blackberries. In between, berries of the blue-, rasp-, huckle-, thimble-, boysen-, Marion- and logan- persuasions find their way into almost every meal, from light breakfasts to savory salads and sweet shortcakes.

Fun Facts About Berries 

  • The study of blackberries is called batology.
  • Raspberries can be white, gold, orange, purple or black.
  • The average American eats about 8 pounds of strawberries per year.
  • There’s a strawberry museum in Belgium called Musée de la Fraise.
  • Almost one-quarter of the world’s raspberries are grown in Russia.
  • Early American settlers made gray paint by boiling blueberries in milk.
  • Christ’s crown of thorns is theorized by some to have been made of blackberry runners.
  • Of the common “berries,” only blueberries and cranberries are “true berries.” Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are “aggregate fruits.”

Pair It

Myles Burroughs, beverage director for The Derschang Group of restaurants in Seattle, has a go-to for berries in sweet situations. “For any berry desserts, try Casalone Mariposa Brachetto,” he says, “Not too sweet, slightly effervescent, with delicate rose and ripe red- and black-fruit flavors.” For more savory berry-based dishes, he suggests pairing with wines that exhibit the same character.

“Some of the sweetest berries grow among the sharpest thorns.” —Gaelic proverb

Raspberries

Nero d’Avola is often associated with dark-skinned fruit, but those from Arianna Occhipinti, like her Occhipinti Siccagno Nero d’Avola, exude a wild, fresh-crushed raspberry character,” says Burroughs. “All Gamays can show raspberry flavors, but with raspberry dishes, I often reach for a sparkling Gamay rosé like Domaine Jousset Éxilé Rosé Pétillant. It has minerality and acidity along with plenty of fresh raspberry and strawberries on the palate.”

Strawberries

Burroughs looks to Tuscany for wines with strawberry notes. “Laura di Collobiano’s Tenuta di Valgiano Palistorti Rosso blends Sangiovese with Merlot and Syrah to produce intensely fruity aromas. Ribolla Gialla from Friuli produces light, floral wines with nice acidity. I Clivi RBL Brut Nature is a wonderfully clean sparkling wine with a dry, precise lemon-custard taste that beautifully complements strawberries.”

Blueberries

Malbec from Cahors has a much different character than its brasher Argentinian counterpart. Clos Siguier Les Camille Vieilles Vignes is a light and fruity wine, elegant and structured, owing to the concentration of limestone in the soil,” says Burroughs. “Pinot Meunier does its heavy lifting as one of the…varieties in Champagne production. A 100% Meunier Champagne like Piot-Sévillano Provocante blends indulgent, plush ripe-fruit flavors with all the finesse expected from Champagne.”

How to Pair Wine with (Almost) Anything

Blackberries

Cabernet Franc from Chinon strongly reflects the soils on which it’s planted. Domaine Grosbois Clos du Noyer owes some of its finesse to its sandy clay soil,” Burroughs says, noting the wine shows powerful blackberry, as well as red and black currants and leather. “The Cru Beaujolais of Chénas hasn’t received as much credit as they deserve. Domaine Paul-Henri Thillardon Les Boccards has some of the muscle of neighboring Moulin-a-Vent, but with restrained elegance and luscious black fruit.”

Published on May 2, 2018
Topics: Pairings
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net




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