Adult Heaven: Wine and Ice Cream Pairings

Yes. You’re allowed to pair wine with ice cream. Isn’t it great to be a grown up? While wine and ice cream pairings can be a little challenging, just use this guide to get you started!

There’s really nothing quite as wonderful as an ice cream cone – particularly while strolling down a boardwalk on a nice sunny day. In fact, we think the only thing that could improve the experience is a glass of wine. 

Some wine experts consider wine and ice cream an “impossible” pairing. Why? Well, pairing wine with any kind of sweet treat can be a little challenging – if you don’t know what you’re doing. We also suspect there’s just a little bit of snobbery going on. 

We delight in pairing wine with our favorite foods – whether they’re super casual or dressed up. Plus, when you know how to pair these two treats, you’ll end up with something marvelous. 

The Ice Cold Truth

Before we get to the (much-anticipated) pairings, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.

  • When it comes to pairing wine with any kind of dessert, the wine should be slightly sweeter than the dessert. If you only know a handful of pairing tips, this is a good one to add to your list.
  • Next, consider the wine’s tannins. A red wine with high tannins can balance out a creamy savory sauce perfectly, but when you pair it with a sweet food, you can end up with a bitter taste and a dry mouth. That’s why, sometimes, your best bet is a wine with lower tannins.
  • Finally, most wine has some acidity. Usually, acidity provides a nice balance to the food you’re eating. With ice cream, however, it can be like squeezing a lemon over your sundae.

Unless you get the low-down from your local wine merchant (or email us for advice), you might not know about a wine’s acidity or the intensity of the tannins just by looking at the bottle. So, feel free to do some delicious experimenting to find a combination that you love. 

Our Favorite Pairings

Chocolate

Rich, smooth chocolate ice cream pairs well with the fresh berry notes in red wine. Your best bet is to go with a slightly sweet wine like Brachetto d’Acqui, a semi-sparkling red wine from Italy with notes of strawberry, black currant, and cream. You could also go with a Zinfandel with bold dark fruit notes.

vanilla ice cream in white bowl with mint leaves

Vanilla

Luscious vanilla bean ice cream goes well with a semi-sweet sparkling wine, but it’s also an excellent blank canvas for the toppings of your dreams. If you like your vanilla topped with red berries, try a late-harvest Zinfandel with notes of blackberry and cinnamon. If you prefer toasted almonds or chocolate chips, try a tawny port.

Strawberry

Rounding out the Neapolitan trifecta, strawberry ice cream goes well with an off-dry rosé or sparkling rosé. Not only do these two look great together, but notes of fresh berries complement the ice cream.

Coffee 

Coffee and red wine have some similar characteristics, and coffee ice cream goes well with a robust red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, with notes of black cherry and baking spices help to bring out the nutty flavors in this ice cream.

cookie dough ice cream on colorful background

Cookie Dough

Cookie dough ice cream – with rich, buttery chunks of cookie dough and a vanilla base – goes well with an oaked Chardonnay. The buttery notes in Chardonnay are divine alongside the flavors in this popular ice cream.

Pistachio

This light and nutty ice cream pairs well with a slightly sweet white wine like an off-dry Riesling or Chardonnay. You could also go with Prosecco. After all, as the saying goes, what grows together goes together.

salted caramel ice cream on orange and white striped table cloth

Salted Caramel

Not that there was any doubt, but the reason salted caramel is so fantastic is because sea salt does wonders to balance out the sweetness of the caramel. The only way to improve this already wonderful flavor combination is with a Pedro Ximenez (“PX”) sherry, a Spanish dessert wine with notes of coffee, toffee, and fig.

Mint Chocolate Chip

The notes of rich raspberry and chocolate in Australian Shiraz go pretty perfectly with the flavors in mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

Cookies & Cream

The Oreo cookie of ice cream flavors, cookies and cream goes well with a white wine, like off-dry Riesling or even a sparkling wine like Cava.

Old Fashioned Butter Pecan

Rich and nutty, butter pecan ice cream goes well with a Chardonnay. Much like with cookie dough, the buttery notes in an oaked Chardonnay bring out the best in this classic ice cream flavor.

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Already a brilliant combination of flavors on its own, chocolate peanut butter ice cream pairs well with the stone fruit notes in an off-dry Riesling. You could also pair chocolate peanut butter with Madeira, a fortified wine with notes of hazelnut, caramel, and peach.

Berry Sorbet

Finally, if you’re trying to stay kind of healthy, berry sorbet is a light and refreshing treat that’s almost just as good as ice cream. Pair berry sorbet with an off-dry rosé, or put the two together in your own homemade frosé

Poached pears with vanilla ice cream on white plate on a wood table

Combining Wine and Ice Cream

Looking for more ways to celebrate National Ice Cream Month? 

If a cone and a glass seem like too many things to keep track of, you can always combine your wine with your ice cream by making your very own wine ice cream. You can do this with either red or white wine. 

Here’s how to make red wine ice cream, vanilla bean whipped cream, and spiced red wine syrup. You can use either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. 

If you prefer white wine, check out this recipe for Moscato poached pear gelato.

Another way to combine wine and ice cream is in a decadent vino affogato. An affogato is an Italian specialty that features espresso over gelato. There’s no reason you can’t swap out the coffee for wine, using the pairings in this guide. 

In Vino Finito

Did we miss your all-time favorite ice cream flavor? Email our amazing Wine Concierge team and we can help you find the perfect wine and ice cream pairings.

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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