Can you pair wine with cupcakes? We say yes! By observing a couple of simple rules, you can pair any food with the perfect wine, and sweets are no exception. However, the sweeter the dessert, the more it matters which wine you choose. Chocolate, especially, poses a challenge, but despite what you’ve been told, it’s not impossible.
Today, we’re talking about cupcake wine, chocolate wine, honey wine, and dessert wine in general. But before you say, “no sweet wine for me,” hear us out. In the right context, sweet wines will melt your heart like a chocolate fondue!
Wine and Chocolate
Chocolate is often a descriptor in wine tasting notes. Despite that, there really is no such thing as “chocolate wine.” Chocolate is both bitter and sweet. Dark chocolate is generally better for pairing with dry red wines because it doesn’t have the same sugar content as milk chocolate.
The bitter notes in dark chocolate are perfect with wines like cabernet franc, malbec, and merlot and will actually lift the red fruit notes in the wine. Port or port-style wines are also a good bet here. Vintage or Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) ports are best, but fortified wines made from zinfandel are also a good choice.
When pairing sweet milk chocolate or chocolate truffles, there is one rule: the wine must be sweeter than the chocolate. Otherwise, the sweetness overpowers the wine, and neither will taste very good. Icewine is the “classic” pairing, but try a botrytis-affected wine like Noble One from Australia or a Sauternes from France if you’re not a fan.
Sparkling wine can be very good with chocolate, but best to choose one with some sweetness. Moscato D’Asti and Brachetto are Italian bubblies that are ideal for chocolate. But if you’re thinking more along the lines of Champagne, be sure to choose a demi-sec or doux, as brut or extra dry just won’t cut it.
If you’re looking for an excellent cupcake wine, what you choose depends on the type of cake—and frosting—you’re pairing. And let’s be clear – we’re not talking about “Cupcake” the brand.
For white cakes, a nice late harvest riesling or semillon pairs nicely. If you’ve got a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting, go for something with a tang, such as a German Auslese (oss-LAY-zee) or Beerenauslese (BEER-en-oss-lay-zee). For red velvet cupcakes, try a Vendange Tardive from the Alsace in France. Most of these are semi-sweet, so they’ll do well with dinner, too – especially if you’re serving a dish that’s high in fat, like a crown roast of pork.
Wine made from honey is called mead, and its history dates back to the Vikings. There are as many styles of mead as there is wine, and not all are sweet. You can even find sparkling mead, which is highly versatile and excellent paired with braised meat, stews, steaks, chicken, or fish.
There are several meaderies in the Pacific Northwest, each with its own unique style – so if you’re craving something different, honey wine should definitely be on your radar. Dry sparkling meads don’t have an overwhelming honey taste and often feature notes of dried stone fruits, nuts, and apple butter. Is your mouth watering yet?
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