There is really only one ‘golden rule’ for me when choosing wines to match cake. The wine should be sweeter than the cake; and you should try to match flavor intensity. For example, a rich port would kill a delicate Pavlova. With that in mind here are some of my favorite birthday cake pairings:
Wines to Pair With Birthday Cake Flavors
- Vanilla layer cake – A white VDN (Vin Doux Naturel) from France works really well. Beaumes de Venise or Rivesaltes — the pure, bright stone fruit flavors and floral notes are a perfect balance for the simple vanilla flavors.
- Chocolate Ganache – 5-year-old Malmsey Madeira — the sweetest style of Madeira. With its high acidity it is a perfect foil for the richness of chocolate.
- Red Velvet Cake — A red VDN (Vin Doux Naturel) such as Maury or Banyuls — again from France. Extremely sweet, these wines have rich, heady aromas and flavors of macerating red fruit which, both contrast and compliment the red velvet flavors.
- Strawberry Shortcake – Here, lightness calls for something less powerful such as a Demi-sec Champagne, or maybe an extra-dry Prosecco. The bubbles offer refreshment and a palate-cleansing sensation that marries well with the strawberries in this cake.
- Rich Fruit Cake – Baking spices, dried fruits call for something like a Vin Santo, whose flavors of dried figs, nuts and sweet spices truly compliment any fruit cake.
- Coconut Cream Cake – Such a rich cake calls for a wine with high acidity such as a Tokaji or late harvest Riesling. The citrus marmalade, stone fruit and honey flavors brighten and lift the rich creamy coconut.
- Pavlova – Light and creamy Pavlova calls for something on the more delicate side. Moscato d’Asti with its slight sparkle comes straight to mind, the peachy, floral notes a lovely compliment to the soft marshmallow center of the meringue.
- Ice Cream Cake – Any of you who have read my previous posts on dessert wines know that my favorite pairing with ice cream is Pedro Ximenex (PX) – the decadently sweet sherry wine. Poured over the ice-cream cake – absolutely divine.