I’m starting off the pairings with a classic one- chocolate cake and red wine. There are two reasons for this: 1) It’s a delicious combo, worthy of being the first pairing; and 2) There’s no way you’ll trust me if I start off with something crazy, like chardonnay and cookie butter (trust me on this one- or go try it yourself!).
So why is red wine and chocolate cake such a great combination? One reason is the richness of the flavors. A dark chocolate would completely destroy the flavor of a light, sweet moscato, but it matches up to the power of a nice red. Some sommeliers recommend pairing chocolate with jammy red wines, where the fruit flavors stand out. This makes sense, since chocolate and many of the fruit flavors (strawberries, cherries, etc.) in red wine generally pair well together.
So let’s get rolling! The recipe I used for the cake today comes from Treebeards, one of my favorite restaurants. They have an express location right down the street from my office, which is deadly and delicious. The Treebeards chocolate cake is amazing- moist and rich and super chocolatey. Just a little will satisfy any chocolate craving but you always go back for more because it’s so good!
The Treebeard’s chocolate cake recipe is very easy to make. You mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, throw in some hot water, and then blend everything together. A little while later, you have a delicious cake ready to devour.
Something I loved about this cake is that it is easy to frost. My other favorite chocolate cake recipe is from Hershey’s and it is so moist it’s almost impossible to frost and decorate. The Treebeard’s cake maintains the moistness but is dry enough on the exterior you don’t take cake with you when you’re trying to smooth the frosting. For anyone who makes cakes regularly, this is an absolute miracle!
I tried 4 wines with this cake. Three I tried at the same time, and the 4th I tried separately, just to make sure I covered all the best options. The first three I tried were a zinfandel, merlot, and port. Of these, I think the zinfandel was best. It was nice and smooth and had minimal harshness when it was combined with the cake. The boyfriend preferred the port. With the cake he thought it was a little less overtly sweet than by itself, but the flavors went together nicely. He wasn’t a huge fan of the icing with the wine, just the cake. He said the icing was too sweet for the port. I thought the cake was overly sweet for the merlot, which made it a little harsh at the end of a sip. I could see it with a dark chocolate cake or a nice, fudgy brownie instead.
My favorite was a Carmenere. The wine is very easy to drink and would be fine on its own, but it was delicious with the cake. My sister, who doesn’t like wine at all, commented that it enhanced the cocoa flavors of the cake. Overall, I think many light to medium-bodied red wines will go well with this cake. It’s pretty versatile and could be made with a darker chocolate if you prefer a more robust wine.
So what do you think? What kind of wine do you like with your cake?