Question: Which dessert wines go best with King Cake?
The King Cake, like many of the traditions associated with Mardi Gras, has a colorful history. Though it’s associated with the Epiphany today – the Kings in question being those three kings who traveled from afar to visit the infant Jesus, the cake pre-dates Christianity by centuries.
Originally, the King Cake was a fixture of a pagan Roman celebration called Saturnalia. A fava bean, a symbol of good luck, was baked into a cake, and the man who was fortunate enough to find the bean became king for the day. With the world as his oyster, the Lord of Misrule enjoyed a brief reign filled with drinking, dancing, and mayhem.
The tradition continued even under the watchful eye of the church, which permitted the King Cake and its associated vagary as a prelude to the strict abstinence of Lent. However, during the French Revolution, anything that called to mind the tyranny of kings was considered distasteful. The Mayor of Paris called for the arrest of patisseries making the cakes, but most felt this was taking the Revolution too far. Thus, the King Cake survived much longer than the kings of France.
It stands to reason that a confection with such a rich and playful history should be enjoyed with a wine that is equally rich and playful. It’s dense pastry has a robust bite, and any dessert wine paired with it should be a full-bodied match.
As King Cake’s most notable flavors are cinnamon and sweet, sugary glaze, it would be best paired with a sweet white wine containing notes of apples, pears, and cinnamon. A balance of sweet and slightly acidic, a Sauternes from the Bordeaux region of France has a staying power that suits King Cake. The finish of a quality Sauternes will linger on the palate for several minutes, and the nutty note is a perfect complement to the King Cake’s spiciness.
However, to really do the cake and the festivities justice, consider a Rosé Champagne. Nothing says celebration quite like a glass of bubbly, and while the aroma and flavor of a Rosé Champagne vary from one vineyard to the next, they tend to be much richer in flavor and rounder in mouthfeel than a white champagne. That makes Rosé Champagne an ideal partner for a cake that has come to symbolize Carnival season.
Whether you’re looking for a decadent champagne or a sweetly, spicy Sauternes, Zuppardo’s is your source for the finest wines in New Orleans, and we’ve got the King Cake to go with them!