If you ask twenty people, you’ll get twenty opinions about pairing wine with food. In today’s information age we are a bit beyond the “Red with meat, white with fish” days. But then again, the opposing “Drink what you like, with whatever you want” viewpoint is perhaps too lazy & blasé for some.
Today, admittedly with some skepticism on my part, we were to embark on a wine pairing with … cupcakes. That’s right. Penns Woods has taken their diverse lineup of award winning juice and teamed up with Dia Doce, renowned cupcake experts as proven by their recent victory on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
Twenty-five bucks and an early reservation gets you a sample of five freshly baked-from-scratch-this-morning mini cupcakes and five generous pours of Penns Woods quality elixir. I should mention that reservations are necessary as this event, though fairly new has become somewhat of a local tradition. The tasting lasts about an hour.
Penns Woods’s marketing rock star, Carley was our hostess today. She explained that each cupcake was specifically designed by Dia Doce to pair with the corresponding wines that we were about to taste. The collaboration of these two talented artists would be put to the test. She was winning me over before the tasting even started.
So, first on the docket was the 2012 vintage Traiminette and a Mandarin Coconut Cupcake(1). Traiminette is a Gewürz hybrid, that starts out sweet but converts to a nice dryness on the finish. Honey & citrus on the nose, easy to drink but complex. Here’s a short summary of the two together …
Swirl, sniff, sip, swallow, bite of cake, sip, BOOM!! It was like a citrus explosion.
Maybe there was more to this than I thought. The cake brought out some powerful orange flavors that lingered for more than a few seconds. I finished off the cupcake and the rest of the Traiminette with similar fanfare. I made a concerted effort to pace myself, we had four of these to go.
Round two. The 2011 Chardonnay Reserve, matched up with a Caramel Pine Nut Cupcake(2). This Chard is lightly aged in oak (100% French), and starts off with nice apple flavors. The oak is more prominent after a bit. The caramel and brown sugar in the cake introduced a conspicuous vanilla presence in the wine. I’m really starting to get into this. I know it’s tough to go wrong with wine & cake but this is more fun than I expected.
The winery just released the 2012 White Merlot last week. The wine is light, yet dry with summer fruit flavors. The grape skins are exposed to the juice for only a few hours during production to give the wine it’s light color. The Apricot Brie Cupcake(3) was a fantastic specimen, I’d have to say my favorite today. It also complimented this rosé wine superbly, with it’s graham cracker crust, brie & apricot filling and fresh apricot on top as well.
As the next wine is one of Penns Woods signature Bordeaux reds, I was very interested to see how a cupcake would stand up to it. The 2004 Ameritage blends five varietals to create this dark, epic, fruit forward wine whose finish lasts forever (Yes, it’s one of my favorites). The ganache & mousse filled Chocolate Raspberry Balsamic Cupcake(4) was softened by this monster red. This was the most apparent change in taste for me, as the rich cupcake was tamed by the wine, in a role reversal from the Traiminette & Mandarin Coconut.
To finish off the festivities, Carley offered up the sweet 2012 vintage Moscato Canelli accompanied by a Ginger Honey Cupcake(5). This light and sweet wine went toe to toe with the lemon & honey cupcake with ginger frosting. Can you say brunch?
A lot of meticulous effort was obviously put into these pairings and it far exceeded my expectations. Many thanks to Carley & the talented artists at Dia Doce and Penns Woods who both offer outstanding, locally produced creations. Support your local wineries & businesses!
I’m extremely interested on what they can do with bacon. I’ll let you know.