My Sweet Goodness! The Cheesecake Factory’s Most Popular Cheesecakes Paired With Dessert Wines

I LOVE cheesecake!  It’s definitely a deathbed food for me, though I will confess that I don’t eat it often because it’s so nutritionally naughty.  In fact, now that I think about it, I haven’t had a slice in 2012!  That’s going to change on July 30 – National Cheesecake Day.  In honor of National Cheesecake Day, I thought it would be cool to offer wine pairing recommendations for the Cheesecake Factory’s most popular cheesecakes.

When it comes to dessert and wine pairings, there is only one hard and fast rule –  the wine should be as sweet as, or sweeter than the dessert, otherwise the wine will taste sour.  That’s why cheesecake can be a challenging pairing – because it comes in so many variations/styles.  Not to mention that it’s not top of mind when it comes to something with which to pair wine ( I bet a cold glass of milk comes to mind for the majority of folks) But to my way of thinking, having a great glass of dessert wine is one of the wine world’s and life’s finest and most delectable treats, and is the perfect way to cap off a great meal!

Here’s the deal, I went to the Cheesecake Factory website, and found the following 10 cheesecakes listed (in order) under “Our most popular” cheesecakes (hmmm…not sure how a cheesecake being rolled out next week is #1 on the list..but I’ll go with it)

Note: All images and descriptions of the cheesecakes are courtesy of the Cheesecake Factory

  • OREO® Dream Extreme Cheesecake - “OREO® Cookies Baked in our Creamy Cheesecake with Layers of Fudge Cake and OREO® Cream Mousse. Topped with a Milk Chocolate Icing”.  This seriously decadent  and delicious cheesecake debuts on July 30th according to the Cheesecake Factory’s website.

Pair with 2009 M. Chapoutier Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (“VDN”). This is a lightly fortified wine from France made from Grenache with intense aromas of fig, quince, chocolate, licorice and spice nicely offset with tannins and acidity that make a charming match for this extreme cheesecake. 

  • Hershey®’s Chocolate Bar Cheesecake - “Two moist layers of chocolate cake soaked with Hershey’s chocolate, layered with creamy Hershey chocolate ganache and chocolate cheesecake made with Hershey chocolate. Finished with Hershey milk chocolate icing and Hershey milk chocolate chips“.

Pair this chocolate overload with a Ruby port.  Ruby port is the least complex style of red Port, and is fruity and straightforward.  That youthful style should work well with the milk chocolate which dominates this cheesecake.  Try the Ramos Pinto Fine Ruby Port.

This classic cheesecake would be fantastic with the 2007 Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec, which is a sparkling dessert wine, and a fantastic one at that!  I’ve enjoyed it with a “plain” cheesecake before, and it was a fabulous pairing!  Because the Schramsberg is made it the “demi-sec” style which will be sweeter than the cheesecake. Additionally, the effervescence of the wine will cleanse the palate and have you ready for the next bite of cheesecake!

Red velvet cake tend to be less sweet than its chocolate counterpart.  Pair with 2009 Dashe Cellars Late Harvest Zinfandel, which features cherry, raspberry, and hint of chocolate and vanilla flavors that are balanced out by a nice vein of acidity.  It’s sweet but not cloying.

  • White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle® - “Our Creamy Cheesecake with Chunks of White Chocolate and swirls of imported Seedless Raspberries throughout. Baked in a Chocolate Crust and finished with White Chocolate Shavings and Whipped Cream“.

Here’s another opportunity to pair cheesecake with a  sparkling wine – this one is from Italy - Banfi Rosa Regale. It’s a beautiful cherry red color, and offers delightful rose petal aromas backed by flavors of strawberries and raspberries.  It’s one of the few sparkling wines that has an affinity for chocolate! 

Pair this decadent cheesecake with the Gonzalez Byass “Matusalem” Oloroso, a sherry aged 30 years, which gives it a dark color with intense and multi-dimensional dried fruit and nut flavors which will make a great complement to the chocolatey-peanut butter goodness in this cheesecake!

  • 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake – “Two layers of our Original Cheesecake and two layers of our creamy chocolate fudge cake filled with chocolate cream and finished with crunchy pearls of chocolate“.

Pair with 2010 Bonny Doon 2010 Mourvèdre “Mon Doux”.  This is a Port-like dessert wine made from the old-vine Mourvèdre(MORE-ved-DRUH).  Here’s what Bonny Doon says about it…”We harvested the raisinated parts of the clusters, hand-scissoring them on our sorting table. The resultant sweet red has aromas of blackberry, dried black cherry, tea leaves. On the palate, it has sensuous dried plum, fig, candied cherry, and sweet spice balanced by lively acidity”.

  • Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake - “Flourless Godiva Chocolate Cake topped with a Layer of Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake loaded with Chunks of Godiva Milk Chocolate and topped with a layer of Godiva Chocolate Mousse. Godiva® is a registered trademark of Godiva Brands, Inc”.

Pair with 2008 Barra Bella Dolce Petite Sirah, which is a Port-style wine made from Petite Sirah with fresh blueberry, mocha, and ground coffee aromas, and sweet spicy dark fruit flavors that will complement this rich cheesecake.

  • Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake - “A Caramel Fudge Swirl Cheesecake, Topped with Caramel Turtle Pecans and Chocolate all on a Pecan Brownie Crust”.

Pair with Broadbent 10 Year Malmsey Madeira. Madeira is a fortified wine made on an island off the coast of Portugal. It has wonderful toffee-caramel like character that is the result of heated aging. The Broadbent has a sweet rich chocolatey flavor that along with the toffee and caramel flavor will be perfect with this decadently sweet cheesecake.

  • Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake - “Our smooth Chocolate Cheesecake topped with a Layer of Chocolate Mousse and Baked in a Chocolate Crust. Finished with Chocolate Shavings and Whipped Cream“.

Pair with Churchill’s 10 Year Tawny Port. Tawny ports are  smooth with a velvety texture and aromas of sweet fruit and roasted nuts. This is has a delicious sweet fig-like flavors and a caramel finish that will be a great match for this cheesecake.

 

My favorite cheesecake and dessert wine pairing? Come on! It’s impossible to pick one…it’s a toss-up between Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake/Madeira, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate/Oloroso.  And if you ask me tomorrow…you might get a different answer;-)!

Chocolate Truffle Tart and Sparkling Wine – An Odd Couple?


I truly enjoy it when my adventure through “Winedom” takes me to unexpected places, particularly when it comes to wine and food pairings.  Such was the case when a friend suggested I give Rosa Regale a try after reading my post about our wine club’s blind Champagne Tasting.  He didn’t say much about it other than it was “great” with chocolate.  Better yet, the next day he gave me a bottle.  Yes indeed – action does speak louder than words!

After receiving the bottle, I was intrigued because Rosa Regale is a red sparkling wine.  I’m no stranger to red sparkling wine, having enjoyed one for Thanksgiving, but a red sparkling wine that would pair well with chocolate, I had to know more!

Here what I found out – Rosa Regale is produced in Italy’s Piedmont region in the Brachetto d’Acqui DOGC – Denominazione Di Origine Controllata e Garantita, which is a specific geographic area in Province of Alessandria. It’s a spumante (which means foaming) made from the Brachetto grape sourced exclusively from a single vineyard known as La Rosa. The Brachetto, is a red grape used to produce both still and sparkling wines.  It tends to produce light bodied, highly aromatic wine with a distinctive strawberry aroma.  And to my surprise I also discovered that Italy produces more sparkling wines from more different grape varieties than any other country in the world!

I decided to try the Rosa Regale with a Chocolate Truffle Tart for our Christmas Eve dinner.   The Chocolate Truffle Tart is dense, rich, intensely chocolate dessert with soft, almost gooey center abounding with bits of chopped bittersweet chocolate on top of a flaky chocolate crust that contains a touch of cinnamon.  The filling is topped with unsweetened cocoa that contrasts beautifully with sweetness of the filling.  And since up to this point whenever I’d thought of a wine to enjoy with chocolate, I thought of Port, I decided to also pair the dessert with a 1997 Dow’s Colheita Porto I had on hand.

I tried the dessert with the Rosa Regale first, and it was a wonderful pairing indeed!  The Rosa Regale was sweet enough to stand up to the sweetness of the Chocolate Truffle Tart.  I picked up raspberry flavor when I tasted the Rosa Regale, and that raspberry flavor was fabulous with the dessert.  And the two together brought to mind a bittersweet flourless chocolate cake topped with a raspberry coulis.  But what I really enjoyed about the Rosa Regale was how the acidity and effervescence inherent in a sparkler cleansed my palate for the next bite.  When pairing food and wine, options include mirroring the food, or setting up a contrast.  For me the Rosa Regale was more of a contrast because it wasn’t as sweet as the dessert, but the fruitiness was a delightful compliment to the dessert.  On the other hand, the Porto more so mirrored the sweetness of the dessert. The Porto also paired well with the dessert, but I enjoyed the Rosa Regale more.  Not only because of the contrast, and effervescence, but also because of the versatility of Rosa Regale.  Flexibility is an important consideration for me when pairing food and wine, and I can easily see how the Rosa Regale would work not only with dessert, but as an aperitif,  appetizer, or with a variety of entrees, (Spicy ethnic foods come to mind – for other pairing suggestions with Rosa Regale click here).  It easily trumps Porto for food pairing flexibility.

Yes indeed…the more I learn, the less I know…and thankfully so!