Cupcakes: impossible food-wine pairing?

layer_cakeOver the weekend we celebrated the first birthday of the youngest member of our family. We had a few friends over and one of them brought the Layer Cake shiraz from Australia as a birthday wine (find Layer Cake). Appropriately enough, it was from his birth-year vintage of 2008! (I’ll have to remember that trick for parents of young children at their kids’ birthdays.)

I didn’t get a chance to try the inky black, 14.9% alcohol shiraz before the bottle was drained by other guests. But I did ponder for a moment the name, Layer Cake, which is the absolute antithesis of what I would think the wine is all about or what I would pair it with. Apparently, there’s also a wine called “Cupcake” that makes cabernet and chardonnay among other dry wines. Frankly, I think these names are headed down the wrong track since cakes may be fun, but they aren’t really amenable to wine pairings.

Or wait: are they? Which wine would you pair with cupcakes? Or are they…impossible?

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33 Responses to “Cupcakes: impossible food-wine pairing?”

  1. Champagne, perhaps? I did that for a friend’s birthday once. Cupcakes, petit fours, and Veuve Cliquot!

  2. A Cerdon-Bugey: a little bubbly, a little sweet, a little pink. And as charming as a cupcake.


  3. I think you’d have a lot more trouble pairing that wine (Layer Cake) with food, than paring the cupcakes with food. For chocolate cupcakes, pair a red or a port. For the white cupcakes, go with a muscat or sweet Riesling.

  4. A bottle of cold bubbly would go well with any of these sweet treats!

    I would also try a sweet zin or shiraz with chocolate cupcakes.

  5. Try Layer Cake with a Layer Cake. Its obvious thats what the people who make the wine want you to do!

  6. 1. Champagne and wedding cake is a miserable pairing.

    2. Moscato d’Asti and wedding cake is another story.

    3. Like pairing a dry wine to a food’s a sauce or dominant flavors, sweet wines paired to a cake’s icing.

    4. Always make sure the wine is sweeter than the cake.

  7. Maybe the Cakebread family should jump in here.

  8. Pedro Ximenez…

  9. For a cake, I’d go with the dominant flavors; a Port (USB, perhaps) with a chocolate, a late harvest Riesling with vanilla.

    And, yes, Cupcake wine does exist; the ’07 Central Coast chard is pretty good (especially for the price), while the ’06 Central Coast cab is moderately decent. They make a Central Coast merlot and a Marlborough sauv blanc

  10. Cupcake wine exists? Wow, must try that…
    I’d go with a sweet Semillon or a desert port.

  11. Cupcake wine exists? Wow, must try that…
    I’d go with a sweet Semillon or a desert port.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

  12. Milk, of course.
    OK, I guess that misses the point. Then how about R.L. Buller Muscat? Great wine, great value. Great match? Cheers!

  13. I’m with Tyler on this one, the name should be evocative of what the wine is attempting. It’s equivalent to naming a wine “Cotton Candy”–the only reason it would be worthwhile is if the creators used to be cotton candy vendors, or had a particular sweet tooth so the machine was always on the vineyard grounds. Then there’s context, otherwise the wine is telling me something untrue.

  14. Bugey! I love this suggestion. And agree, wouldn’t be pairing this Shiraz with food.. Layer Cake makes a simple great cocktail wine but wouldn’t be found wandering near my dinner table, much less the dessert bar. That said, I love the label and the marketing here. Classy and fun.

    I think folks get into trouble with the Champagne-cake pairing.. I think most commercial cakes are frosted waaay too sweet to accommodate the flinty minerality of Champagne.

  15. Cupcake, Ass Kisser, Bitch. Those are, in order, the most popular wines I’ve brought in the past month.
    -Florida retailer-

  16. Ok…call me crazy, but if you’ve ever looked into the producer, Layer Cake was named because the winemaker’s grandfather used to say that the soils in a vineyard were like a layer cake…richly layered, very different but they came together to produce something wonderful. Yes, it’s cheesy. And it’s possible the story’s a sham, although I certainly hope not. And if it is true, then the wine was named to honor a favorite adage of a treasured family member. I wouldn’t have picked the name myself (even though I’m a sucker for a metaphor), but for a big, overtly ripe red, it’s not bad. Not my usual cup of tea, but not bad.

  17. With a Red Velvet I could go with a late harvest muscat. But would really lean to an eau di vie. Love Red Velvet Cupcakes! Or as someone said in an earlier post… a tall cold glass of milk. I wonder when Cinnamon Roll Merlot, Shortbread Riesling and Bundt Cake Cab will roll onto the market??? 🙂

  18. Depends on the type of cupcake. Here’s some pairings I’ve had over the years: I concur with Port for red velvet or chocolate, although I like Tawny Port for German Chocolate. With white of all kinds from Funfetti to Champagne Cake I like Schrambsberg’s Cremant, and with classic yellow Bonny Doon’s Pommeau is a REAL treat. For strawberry either V. Sattui Gamay Rouge or Arbor Mist Strawberry White Zin rocks. With lemon Ironstone Symphony or Late Harvest Sauv Blanc are yummy, and with carrot cake Quady Essensia is tasty. I’m sure there’s other flavors, but that’s all I’ve tried pairing with wine so far!

  19. Try some Reymos Sparkling Moscatel from Valencia in Spain!

  20. Christy Frank–You are right on! My #1 vote goes for the Bugey-Cerdon sparkling gamay deliciousness!

    I could also go for Brachetto d’Aqui or Moscato d’Asti…depending on the cake of the cupcake…Or Elio Perrone Bigare which is an amazing blend of brachetto and moscato and is the prettiest pink in the glass…

    hmmm, now i want cupcake…mmmmmm

  21. The story about Layer Cake being inspired by the words of one’s Grandfather are true, I know, I make the wine and it was my Grandfather.

    He explained to me when I was a little boy that wine had many layers and so does life, he explained that the vines that made the grapes lived in soil with many layers. Everything contributed to the aromatics and flavors within the wine.

    He explained it in this simple way as my Grandmother always made me a layer cake for Sunday dinner. I loved those cakes and he knew that a small boy could relate to the layers of jam, chocolate and other flavors in the triple level layer cakes that she made.

    His words really sank home and so I put my Grandmothers cake on the front label. The wine is something handmade, no marketing departments or fancy designers just an ideal that sank into my heart, was real and true, to me it still is and always will be.

    Just thought you might want to know.

    Jayson Woodbridge
    Layer Cake and Hundred Acre

  22. Can’t go wrong with a sweet red Rivesaltes from Languedoc Roussillon, such as Chateau Les Pins, for all your rich chocolate cupcake (and other) pairing needs! Similar taste to a port, in my view, with a lower alcohol level, which makes it a particularly good pairing.

    Not sure about the availability in the US but brought one from my home (Montreal) and was a rather big hit at a dinner event in FL last week.


  23. Yes the Cupcake Chardonnay was poured at the Wine Bloggers Conference last Summer. It was nice, albeit basic, which I guess is what the name conveys. While I don’t typically post links in comments, we happened to post an article just a few days after this post on wine and cupcake pairings, thought I’d point it out to you!

  24. Just to clarify my wine Layer Cake is in no way associated with Cupcake wine.

    Jayson Woodbridge
    Layer Cake

  25. Be a little more creative, make a savory cake either in layers or in cups… Why should shepheards have all the fun making pies?

  26. Totally agree that a Muscat would pair well with the white cupcakes. Food and wine pairing doesn’t have to be all about which wines go with meat, fish, and cheese – it’s fun to mix it up once in a while. Cool post!

  27. My retailer is selling Cupcake as a second-tier offering from Cakebread. I am skeptical. Anybody?

  28. i want to know about food_wine pairing.which wine go with which food.pls send me details as soon as posssible.

  29. I agree with most of the pairing ideas in this blog. However, I feel that when making gourmet cupcakes from scratch which are more elegant and not overpowering with sweetness, one can pair drier style wines. For example a dark-styled malbec from Argentia (Kaiken, Malbec ULTRA or even their cabernet) with a decadent chocolate cupcake. Also, a lemon choubust cupcake with poppyseed topped with lemon shavings with a zippy sauvignon blanc.
    DO NOT be afraid to experiment. This makes it more interesting.
    Please let me know your thoughts on this.

  30. I too am loving some of the suggestions on here! Tonight I am baking cupcakes for my daughters first birthday and so I am wanting to pair a wine to the cupcakes that my friend and I can enjoy as we bake them! I am considering a French Vouvray to pair with them. We are doing carrot cupcakes and zucchini cupcakes both with cream cheese frosting and perhaps a bit of all natural coconut!

  31. Btw, Daniel Gross had a funny column recently predicting a cupcake crash:

  32. To Jayson Woodbridge, your Layer Cake Wine, only one word: Fantastic!!!!

  33. I came upon this website when I googled what wine goes with cupcakes. I looked at all the suggestions from the comments and decided on a Moscato. I just had it with my red velvet cupcake and mmm mmm delicious!

    Thanks everyone!


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