A ‘Sweet’ Vertical Tasting: M.A.K. Cheesecake and Italian Wine Pairings

As you may know, our cheesecakes are out of this world – it’s love at first bite. It’s obvious that we have a sweet tooth, but we also have developed quite a love for Italian dessert wines during our time in Milan. Coincidentally, Italian dessert wines happen to pair perfectly with our cheesecakes. Read on as we take you through our ‘dolce’ version of a typical wine and food pairing! Start salivating…

 
 

Big Cheese Brulee

This cheesecake is a twist on a classic NY cheesecake—it has all of the elegant flavor and texture, but it’s hand-fired for a rustic look. Prepare to taste a balanced forkful of sweetness, creaminess, and that great caramelized sugar edge to give it a little bite!

  • Flavor Notes: subtle caramelized sugar; fluffy, yet tangy-sweet ricotta cheese

Pairing: Passito di Pantelleria

Passito di Pantelleria is grown in deep holes of volcanic soil on the island Pantelleria (in Sicily)! The grapes are left to ripen in the burning Sicilian sun until September, when they develop a delicious sweet taste like a raisin – hence why it’s called Passito (Italian for raisin). After ripening, they are left on straw mats to shrivel which makes an even sweeter and more concentrated finished wine.

This dessert wine is thick with a golden-amber color while aromas are intense with sweet notes of figs, dried dates, honey, candied orange, and apricot jam. It’s syrupy yet delicate, with freshness and an extremely long finish. Because of the intense aromatics of Passito, the flavor carries on while you drink, which is an added perk.

Passito di Pantelleria is the perfect match with blue and piquant cheese, every kind of pastry, and chocolate—especially gianduia from Piedmont. Because this wine elegantly compliments ricotta cheese, it pairs perfectly with our Big Cheese Brulee!

 

Salted Caramel Brulée

 Salted caramel…Crème Brulée …Cheesecake. Mmmmm! That pretty much sums up this cheesecake. Indulge in this dolce to experience a sweet, savory, salty, and creamy bite of one of the MAK’s most popular cheesecakes!

P.S. Years of experience making caramel has taught us how to make the perfect batch every time. Layered with tangy cream cheese and swirled on top, our salted caramel is perfection.

  • Flavor Notes: salted caramel, caramelized sugar, nuttiness, fluffy and tangy cream cheese.

Pairing: Vin Santo

Vin Santo is made with Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes in the region of Tuscany. Grapes are laid out on straw mats—like Passito di Pantelleria—which causes them to shrivel up and develop concentrated sweet flavor. The most interesting aspect of the process is how the wine is aged; similar to the sweet Portuguese wine called Madeira, Vin Santo barrels are stored in the hot attics of the winery. Exposing the barrels to an unpredictable temperature environment makes for deliciously interesting flavors.

Typically, Vin Santo is enjoyed after dinner by itself; however, the classic pairing is with Tuscan biscotti. Brittle and almond-flavored, the biscotti are dipped in the wine and both are consumed together—the pairing is something you must try if you have the chance, but we’ve also discovered a new pairing of our own…

You probably could have guessed, but of course Vin Santo is a match for one of our MAK sweet treats. Pair this wine with our Salted Caramel Brulée Cheesecake: the rich, nutty flavors of the Vin Santo complement the caramelized sugar notes and cheese almost too perfectly.

Italians refer to Vin Santo as a vini di meditazioni, which essentially means a wine to contemplate with. Enjoy a glass with our Salted Caramel Brulee Cheesecake while contemplating which cheesecake you’d like to take home for later!

 

Raspberry White Chocolate

Now this is a famous one here at the MAK—a silky-smooth, white chocolate cheese swirled with vibrant red raspberries. Hand-fired and glazed, this cheesecake has that extra special touch which keeps our customers coming back for more. As one of the MAK’s bestselling desserts, this became an instant classic when we pulled into Milan.

  • Flavor Notes: delicate white chocolate, flavorful, in-your-face red raspberry, subtle caramelized sugar

Pairing: Malvasia (look for Malvasia Nera)

Malvasia Nera is a slightly sweet sparkling wine with an intense nose: think floral and red berry aromas and flavors. The fresh, vivacious bubbles make it a great complement to any dolci Americani, specifically something with fresh fruit. As a versatile wine not just for sweets, it can be served at the beginning or end of a meal: first with a plate of salumi, later with berry desserts such as tarts and pies – better yet, our Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake! Indulge.

Big Cheese Brulee
Salted Caramel Brulee
Raspberry White Chocolate Brulee

Passion Mango

Layers of creamy, smooth passion fruit and mango-infused buttermilk cheesecake topped with a tart passion fruit curd. Finished with a shimmering glaze of passion fruit and mango, this cake has a splash of color and a lot of passion—always a crowd pleaser!

  • Flavor Notes: passion fruit tartness, sweetness from the ripe mango, delicious sweet-tart flavor from the buttermilk, light and delicate, but rich in flavor

Pairing: Moscato d’Asti

Moscato d’Asti is only made with white Muscat Blanc grapes—unlike other moscato you can find around Italy.

This sweet, refreshing wine is famous for its aromatic flavors of peach, orange blossom, and nectarine. The name originates from Italy, but the Muscat grape may be one of the oldest cultivated varieties in the world. We know Moscato is generally disregarded as cheap wine, but DOCG (guaranteed quality status, made by small producers) Moscato d’Asti is delicious stuff and it makes our Passion Mango Cheesecake over-the-top luscious!

P.S. for an easy last-minute pairing with any sweet treat, Moscato d’Asti will usually work. The light, fruity flavors will complement almost any dessert, especially cheesecake! It’s one of the most widely distributed dessert wines in Italy and around the world, so you’ll have no trouble finding it Stateside!

Strawberry Cream

 A touch of crème brulée custard lightens the texture of this super creamy, all-natural cheesecake. The just-picked strawberry compote provides a tart contrast to the cool, creamy, and refreshing flavor—an instant classic and Italian fan-favorite!

  • Flavor Notes: just-picked strawberries; slightly tart, creamy sweetness

Pairing: Brachetto d’Acqui

Brachetto d’Acqui has a unique aroma and flavor; produced by macerating the grape juice with the skins for approximately two days, the ruby pigment and tannins are allowed to leach out. After fermentation the wine is aged in bottle for three months or more. This frizzante (semi-sparkling) red is known for its perfumed bouquet redolent of rose petals, strawberries, and raspberries. Like our Strawberry Cream Cheesecake, this wine has soft bubbles and a pleasant mouth-feel.

It is an excellent aperitif and traditionally an ideal match for fruit tarts, chocolate or Amaretti di Mombaruzzo, a traditional amaretto biscuit from the Acqui Terme area in Piedmont. Of course, we know it’s an even better match with our Strawberry Cream Cheesecake!

Mango Passion
Strawberry Cream

So next time you come to the truck, grab a few slices or even a whole cake to-go! Share and serve it amongst friends with one of these delicious Italian dessert wines for the ultimate pairing.