Subscribe to Blog via RSS
Search for Events
Recent Blog Articles
- How You Can Contribute to Earthquake Relief in Napa
- On a Vertical Tasting of Grgich-Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville Selection
- A Tale of Two Conferences
- Cats and Dogs Blogging Together
- Getting the Wine Bloggers Conference We Deserve
- New White Wines and Rosés from Rutherford's Day in the Dust
- Examining 2011 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
- 6 More California Rhone Wines to Try at Rhone Rangers
- Lodi Zinfandel Goes Native
- Study: Researchers Discover New Taste
- He Wasn't Talking To You, Mr. Outrage
- 16 North Coast Rhones to Try and a Toothsome #WineChat
- How Many Wines do Critics Taste per Day?
- Howell Mountain Spring Tasting Wrap Up
- Of Tasting Notes and Photographs
- Rhone Rangers Tastings and Rhone-Variety Wines Tasted
- How Critics Taste Wines - Glassware
- More Thoughts on Blind vs. Non-Blind Tasting
- A Great Tasting on Balance
- How Critics Taste Wines - On Blind Tasting
Recent Wines of the Day
- 2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2010 Skinner Vineyards Estate Mourvedre, El Dorado
- 2012 Masut Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County
- 2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi
- 2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa
- 2011 Jekel Riesling Monterey and 2011 Jekel Pinot Noir Santa Barbara
- 2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley
- Review from the Cellar - 2010 Qupé Mourvedre Ibarra-Young Vineyard
- 2012 Tres Sabores Rosé “Ingrid and Julia” Napa Valley
- 2011 Testarossa Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
- 2009 Lucia Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
- Review: 2009 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2008 Vin Roc Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak Napa Valley
- 2009 Cornerstone Cellars “The Cornerstone” Napa Valley
- 2009 Laetitia Pinot Noir Single Vineyard La Colline Arroyo Grande Valley
- 2010 Lange Twins Chardonnay Estate Grown Clarksburg AVA
- 2012 Borra Vineyards Artist Series Kerner Lodi AVA
- 2010 Wren Hop Pinot Noir “Fire Messenger” Sonoma Coast
NorCal Wine Blog
Wine Pairing Disasters: Cupcake Edition
- Wine & Dine
- Written by Fred Swan
- Thursday, 20 September 2012 06:20
”Gourmet” cupcakes took over America a couple of years ago. Cupcake shops popped up all over. You could get cupcakes delivered to your home while watching cupcake-themed reality shows in your cupcake-motif pajamas. Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess I suppose.
Food and wine pairing is also somewhat out of hand. Matching food and wine perfectly can elevate a meal. It might change the way you look at both the food and the wine. Perfect pairings are rare though, and often in the mouth of the beholder. Despite the hype, the important thing is simply ensuring that the food does not decrease your enjoyment of the wine, or vice versa. Unfortunately, there are some combinations of food and wine that are almost certain to fail.
Cupcakes are, technically, food. As such, they can be “paired.” That does not make it a good idea. Bikinis are outdoor clothing. Deep-frying turkeys is an outdoor activity. But deep-frying a turkey while wearing nothing but a fetching two-piece is a poor idea. So, too, cupcakes and wine.
I bring this up because, just this weekend, I walked into a winery tasting room that was co-located with a boutique cupcake vendor. The recommendation was to get a sampler of tiny cupcakes to taste with specific wines. But the wines were table wines, not dessert wines. Cringe.
One of the principle rules of food and wine pairing is that a wine should be at least as sweet as the food with which it is paired. This is particularly true when it comes to desserts. If the wine is less sweet, its complex, fruity flavors will be flattened by the sugary bulldozer on your plate. Depending on the wine, it may taste sour, bitter or simply dull and devoid of fruit.
Now you might say, “That’s okay. I like wines with a bit of sweetness.” Regrettably, “a bit of sweetness” isn’t enough. To understand why, let’s look at the sugar content of two different cupcakes.
Paula Deen has a recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes on FoodNetwork.com. Mmmmm. Red Velvet! The sugar content is terrifying though, 31 grams per cupcake1. That’s more than you’d find in a 12oz can of Coke or Pepsi (27 grams). To approach the tooth-aching sweetness of Deen’s cupcake with wine, you need a full-on, super-sweet dessert wine such as a Pedro Ximenez (212+ grams/liter) from Spain or Sélection de Grains Nobles (256+ g/l) from France.
Elizabeth Faulkner's Pumkin Cupcake. Photo: c3lcius_bb / Flickr
Our second cupcake recipe is much less sweet than Deen’s, but it’s still a wine killer. Elizabeth Faulkner, formerly of Citizen Cake (and Citizen Cupcake), makes Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting that total 22 grams of sugar per serving2. To match these cupcakes’ sweetness with wine, you’ll want a Dulce Sherry (160+ g/l) or Tokaji Aszu-Eszencia (180 g/l) from Hungary.
You can certainly pair cupcakes with dessert wines such as those I suggest above. However, those wines are so sweet in and of themselves that most people choose to drink them as, rather than with, dessert.
When we were kids, we ate cake with a glass of cold milk. Milk is creamy, low in acidity and the cold temperature reduced our mouths' sensitivty to sugar. And milk doesn't have wine's complex range of flavors, nor does it cost $20/gallon. The milk was perfect, gently coating our little mouths and tempering the cake's sweetness. Sometimes kids know best.
1One-and-a-half cups of granulated sugar for 24 cupcakes, plus 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar for the frosting.
2One cup each of brown sugar and granulated sugar, plus 1 cup of powdered sugar for the frosting.
Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook. Also check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.
This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. Cupcake Pajamas by PJ Salvage. All rights reserved.