Pair It Up! Let Them Eat Cake…On Halloween

Tomorrow’s Halloween, and while the temptation is there to pair up vino and Halloween candy, let’s go for some grown-up treats of the chocolate cake variety instead…

To kick things off, how about starting with some chocolate zucchini cake with a killer chocolate glaze? This cake falls on the sweeter side of things, so you’ll need a wine that can match that sweetness. The Summerhill Pyramid Winery NV Cipes Ice is a bubbly made from Pinot Noir grapes, but then gets a dosage from icewine made from Pinot Noir grapes, ramping up the sugar level in the wine just enough to match this cake.

The kids will dig the cake too — just don’t mention the zucchini part.

If you’re looking for something with a little more density (and/or a gluten-free option), a flourless chocolate cake is always a safe (and popular) bet. On the wine side of things, this weightier cake needs something a little heavier in the glass, and with a bit more sweetness.

Which is where Mt. Boucherie’s 2010 Merlot Icewine comes in. Flourless chocolate cake is often served garnished with raspberries, and this icewine delivers big raspberry and blueberry notes in spades. It’s sweeter and heavier than the Cipes, which works well with the concentrated chocolate intensity of this cake.

Want to go old school and/or super fancy? How about a classic Black Forest cake? I’ve been in/through Germany’s Black Forest region three times and have never seen/tasted Black Forest cake there (or Black Forest ham, for that matter — but, uh, I digress). This Chatelaine recipe takes chocolate cake and spins it off into five variations, including the Black Forest variety.

This more modern version of the dessert bypasses copious whipped cream and maraschino cherries for sour cherries in light syrup and some kirsch. Rest assured, though — it’s still an unmistakable tower of sweet delight.

Tough to pair with wine, you say? For this version, it’s easier than the classic recipe. Elephant Island’s 2013 Cherry Wine is an under-the-radar smash. This wine’s unmistakable intense cherry flavours (and secondary chocolate notes) make for a perfect pairing, with the wine’s light acidity accentuating the tartness of the cherry syrup.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson

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