The 13 Best Cake And Wine Pairings

Let them eat cake, or so the saying goes. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica there's serious doubt whether Marie Antoinette, the figure most closely associated with the phrase, ever actually uttered this in response to reports of French people starving en masse. In fact, most historians believe that this is a popular mythos, as the saying actually predates Marie Antoinette by almost two centuries. Nonetheless, while the phrase is most often used to highlight the obliviousness and privilege of ruling figures, there is something worth looking into the idea of indulgence whenever and wherever possible.

Recently, given economic circumstances and overall diet culture, we've been encouraged to restrict, in the name of wealth and "health." But is indulgence really such an irreparable sin? Those over at Precious Nutrition exalt the benefits of overindulgence and go so far as to say it's necessary, albeit infrequent. The dietitians argue that overdoing it once in a while is completely normal, and offers self-reflection and resilience. At its best, the site notes that overindulgence, within reason, even promotes so-called "deep health": A well-balanced diet that allows the occasional food bender, which exists in a larger ecology of health and wellness.

So why save cake and wine for weddings? Isn't life a special occasion? When going in for a forkful, why not have a full glass, too? Beauty is in whatever bite you enjoy: Here are the best cake and wine pairings out there.

1. Funfetti with sparkling strawberry rosé

It's no secret that Funfetti has come back into American cuisine in the last five years or so. While you can still find it at the children's birthday party table, it seems that Millennials and Gen Z alike are looking for a bright bit of sparkle in each bite. After all, if there's going to be a flavor that encourages to throw a bit of confetti on life, it's going to be Funfetti.

The white cake mottled with rainbow sprinkles is certainly a bold one: It's as sweet as it is bold. It's a daring choice for those young at heart. Of course, those over 21 can now enjoy some nostalgia while also pouring a glass of wine. There is perhaps no better way to match the playfulness of Funfetti than with a bright, yet elegant, sparkling strawberry rosé. The dry bubbles will cut through the cake's sweetness, while the bold strawberry flavor will pair perfectly with the vanilla that characterizes Funfetti. It's simply a match made in heaven. If Funfetti and strawberry rosé were a couple, you'd definitely want the stylish pair at your party. There's simply just no other pairing with quite the same gusto.

2. (NOLA) Wedding cake with sweet white wine

Weddings are where you're most likely to encounter a heavenly slice of cake with a fantastic glass of wine. But what is a wedding cake? It usually depends on the wedded pair. Despite this, the ever-vivacious city of New Orleans does have its two cents on the subject matter. New Orleans Magazine holds true that a proper NOLA wedding cake is one that is a bright white cake complete with almond-flavoring, and pineapple filling, topped with rich buttercream icing. It's a cake unlike any other, and charmingly down-home while remaining supremely decadent all the while.

Sometimes you may pair a bolder flavor with a milder one to strike a perfect harmony. But much like the city of NOLA itself, you must simply meet decadence with decadence when you're in search of a pairing for New Orleans wedding cake. Sweet white wine is just that. Sauternes or a late harvest wine are going to meld perfectly with both the almond and pineapple flavors while adding richness and even a touch of honey (via Wine Folly).

Sauternes and late harvest wines, sourced from Bordeaux and Austria respectively, can vary depending on the year, and it makes sense to check out each year before investing in a bottle. The Austrian Wine Marketing Board, for example, recommends late harvest wines from 2021 to enjoy the cream of the crop and the best off the vine.

3. Chocolate cake with red blends

It seems like there's a little piece of heaven in each bite of a rich dark chocolate cake. Dark chocolate cake is simply a dessert that leans into everything: It's heavy, rich, sweet, and complex. It's impossible to talk about dark chocolate pairings without mentioning red wine. While Zinfandel and merlot may first come to mind when looking for a match, red blends may offer a more laid-back alternative to a deliciously elegant pairing.

For those unfamiliar, red blends are, according to the sommeliers at Bright Cellars, the best of both worlds. They are made by blending the grape varieties of two separate red wines. By doing this, a third "hybrid" wine is blended together, hence the name. Typically, these red blends tend to bring out the best of whatever wine grapes they are sourcing from: They are complex without being too acidic, and generally have a deep flavor. Needless to say, red blends, while mysterious, are a pretty great option.

When brought into sync with chocolate cake, the slightly tannic or astringent properties of red wine will cut beautifully through the richness of the cake. The inherently complex character of red blends will only further add a rich depth to the already decadent cake without overwhelming it. Dark chocolate cake and red blends drive home the point that sometimes less is more, but better yet, sometimes more is more.

4. Vanilla cake with chardonnay

Vanilla has unfairly become synonymous with basic and boring. It's criticized by some as a bland choice, but perhaps that's too dismissive of the quiet charm that defines vanilla. A good vanilla cake can really be as down to the basics as a sheet pan vanilla cake that's both moist and welcoming. It's not going to be a mind-blowing dessert but will make for an excellent and light companion to a humid spring evening. Sometimes that's not only enough, but it's the perfect option.

When pairing wines with vanilla cake, it's best to play to the cake's more modest attributes. According to the HelloVino wine pairing app, chardonnay is just the wine to do that. Wine Folly puts chardonnays on the drier side of the white wine spectrum, which means the wine won't be sweet so as to make the vanilla cake taste sickly sugary. HelloVino adds that chardonnay's heaviness and notes of butterscotch will add a bit of much-needed weight to the otherwise demure vanilla without throwing it off balance. Sometimes simplicity is sweet, and pairing vanilla cake with chardonnay exemplifies just that.

5. Lemon cake with prosecco

Lemon cake is a bright star in a dark sky: It dares us to shine a little brighter, go a little harder, and take the extra bite. It's just as filling as it is refreshing and often swirls of icing, cream, or zest will only fuel this cake's fire. So, when finding a perfect pair, there's perhaps none as electrifying as prosecco.

Some may equate prosecco to cheap Champagne, but that's simply not the case. Wine Folly defends the dry sparkling wine as deserving of a reputation of its own. Prosecco is one of the most popular wines in Italy and often comes at a fraction of the price of Champagne while delivering a quality bubbly experience. Prosecco ranges from dry to brut, all of which means that it will be a crisp drink with little sweetness. Though Wine Folly does clarify that prosecco has a subtle sweetness to it, that you may not find in other sparkling wines. Typically, prosecco will carry notes of honeydew and even honeysuckle. Truly, prosecco steps toe to toe with lemon cake and will somehow only add to this star's shine while bringing some sparkle of its own.

6. Strawberry shortcake and Champagne

Of all the pairs out there, strawberries and Champagne are a sight — or better yet, a bite — to behold. Blacktail NYC, a New York City-based cocktail company, argues that there's a reason why this duo holds a classic charm. The caterers assert that the bold sweetness of strawberries harmonizes with the dryness of Champagne; also, it is worth noting that strawberries can be just as romantic and luxurious a gift as Champagne. Together, the pair heads off to heights that suggest both glamor and romance, which — who couldn't use more of those?

Strawberry shortcake may come off as a little rustic, but when paired with Champagne, it can retain the same charm with a bit of a surprise twist. The biscuit base used for the shortcake balances the dryness of the luxurious sparkling wine, while the strawberries and cream contrast and complement the brut flavor of the wine. Simply put, strawberry shortcakes and Champagne make for a perfect balancing act, and boy, do they pull it off with aplomb.

7. Chocolate cake with ruby port

Chocolate cake is a classic cake favorite, so, fittingly, there's been a lot of thought put into just how to best elevate it. Cooking Light maintains that red wine and chocolate have a lot more in common than one might initially think: Bold flavors and heaviness tend to characterize both. But where the two differ is nonetheless complementary, according to the cooking source. Where chocolate tends to be earthier in nature, the red-fruit nature of red wines will simultaneously lift and deepen these aspects. It's hard to do chocolate cake and red wine wrong. Nonetheless, the source does suggest one wine that may be a bit off the beaten path for those venturing into the gorgeous world of cake and wine pairing.

The site recommends opting for a dessert red wine, which tends to be sweeter in nature than its counterparts. Among the choices, Portugal's very own ruby port is a true knockout. Cooking Light praises the wine as being rich and sweet, just the perfect thing to brighten up a dark cake. Compared to other wines, ruby ports are slightly more alcoholic and thus should be served in smaller wine glasses. Do beware, chocolate cake and ruby port are a supremely rich combination! It's a dessert worthy of indulgence — just plan on sitting down and resting afterward.

8. Carrot cake with sauvignon blanc

Carrot cake is a delightful bite that doesn't need to be relegated to Easter or any other spring holiday. Of all the cakes on the list, carrot cake may have the most complex flavor profile: It is sweet and moist, with a specific texture, and is often enriched by cream cheese frostings, lemon zests, and even hints of lavender. Carrot cake really strikes a chord between rich and refreshing and brings a lot of different elements together. In this sense, it can be tricky to find the right wine for it, but of all the options out there, none quite seem to bring as much to the table for carrot cake as sauvignon blanc.

A French white wine, sauvignon blanc is sourced from the Bordeaux region (via The Wine Cellar Insider). Sauvignon blanc is a dry wine, but its flavor profile can vary immensely depending on the vineyard. All at once it can have citrus notes or earthier elements — it seems that the wine is just as complex as the cake! Thankfully, all of these elements tend to come together when sipping on sauvignon and biting into carrot cake. The white wine doesn't compete with the cake's subtle sweetness but does draw out its more subtle vegetal aspects. It's a noble combination, carrot cake and sauvignon blanc, and certainly sure to gain a few dedicated fans.

9. Angel food cake with California chardonnay

As noted by The Wine Cellar Insider, sauvignon blanc is a complex wine that can vary widely depending on where it's cultivated, which is why the wine can separate into French and California sauvignon blancs. According to The Wine Institute, California sauvignon blancs can even have elements of figs and gooseberries. It's an unusual wine in the American wine landscape but adds a great deal to it. 

Angel food cake, on the other hand, is a featherweight dessert and each bite should just about melt in the mouth. Somehow the Cali chardonnay, when paired with the dessert, does the impossible of grounding the cake without necessarily weighing it down. DeliPair, the food pairing app, even suggests adding poached strawberries to the angel food cake to add another element to the dessert and give a sweet edge to the more demure cake and dry wine.

10. Peanut butter with port

One befuddled wine aficionado lamented on the Amusée wine site: Is there really any outstanding wine pairing for peanut butter? It's hard because peanut butter is simultaneously sweet, salty, nutty, and earthy. With such a complex flavor profile, the writer found — even when consulting wine experts — that there were many "good" pairs for peanut butter, but it was hard to zero in on what would truly make the ingredient pop. It seemed almost like Mona Lisa's smile, both appearing and disappearing. The blogger was stumped, as it seemed that peanut butter could do just as well with red as it could with white and even sparkling. Ultimately, after working through her list of compatriots, she settled on a subset of Sauternes white wine to round out her event and her menu.

While that worked in a lovely manner with the white chocolate peanut butter truffle she was serving, when it comes to peanut butter chocolate cake, you'll need something a bit more full-bodied to round out the chocolate cake element of the dessert. In that case, we'd opt for the author's second choice: a port. The richly sweet red wine not only lifts up the chocolate but will also complement the saltier aspects of the peanut butter frosting. While this pairing needs a lot of work, it certainly brings a big reward.

11. Red velvet with pinot noir

Red velvet cake is a subtly decadent cake with notes of cocoa and even a slight tartness that is rounded out by a cream cheese frosting, according to the experts over at The Food Network. They argue, however, that just as important, perhaps even slightly more so, is the red velvet cake's texture, which is much more delicate than the flavor. Red velvet isn't as heavy as a chocolate cake but still has full flavor.

It's this heavier, more decadent edge that can really be leaned into without the risk of being too much. Thus, pinot noir is a bold choice that will magnify all the richness that red velvet has to offer. Similar to red velvet, pinot noir is a dark red wine whose bark is bigger than its bite, as per Wine Magazine. The magazine notes that the wine, despite its dark and lustrous color, is silky smooth. Its slight bitterness is undercut by notes of dark red fruit and even mushroom. It has a certain darkness to it that truly grounds red velvet cake and brings out its more chocolatey elements. All the while the cake's cream cheese frosting works to make sure both the cake and the wine stay delightfully fresh; it could just be that red velvet cake and pinot noir is the pairing you never even knew you needed.

12. Chocolate-frosted yellow cake with cabernet sauvignon

Chocolate frosting on yellow sheet cake will summon memories of childhood birthdays for many, and perhaps with all the fervor surrounding Funfetti, this cake flavor is also due for a revamp. After all, there is a simple thrill to the cake: The sweet yellow cake that's visually, and flavor-wise, contrasted with a full-bodied chocolate frosting? It's yin and yang, dark and light, quite literally! Of course, it wouldn't be a yellow sheet cake without an element of saccharine sweetness to it.

Surprisingly, finding a wine pairing for this hometown fav is a bit difficult. After all, which part should be balanced — the cake or the frosting? They have completely different flavor profiles. Ideally, both would be complemented. Thankfully, there is an answer: Cabernet sauvignon! Cabernet sauvignon is a bit of a legend in the wine world, just about everyone's heard about it and tasted it, albeit usually with steak. But cabernet sauvignon can do just as well with desserts, even though it may seem like a bit of an odd couple with yellow sheet cake. The cab will deepen the more nuanced elements of the chocolate frosting, while boldly contrasting the yellow cake, though not in an unpleasant manner. Consider it a high-low pairing, and perhaps the dessert element of drinking Champagne with a Big Mac: Wrong on paper, but oddly satisfying.

13. Pumpkin spice cake with Alsace pinot gris

Pumpkin spice has been a buzzword for the longest time, garnering as much (reluctant) love as it has hate. But this autumnal staple is a wonderfully complex spice that can make for the coziest of cakes any time of year. Our recipe, for example, pairs the rich spice with pumpkin purée, sweet yellow cake, and a smoky-sweet butter pecan crumble. It's simply a dish that invites all to sit down and stay a little while, preferably in front of a bonfire. But that begs the question, what to sip on in front of said fire?

Eater's Ask a Somm series of 2015 sought to get in touch with sommeliers directly as they prepared for their exams to ask them the burning questions that so plague many wine neophytes, one of which is what to pair with pumpkin spice. One sommelier, Dana Gaiser, confidently suggested an Alsacian pinot gris. She praised the rich and earthy wine as being able to round out pumpkin spice while adding a crisp element to the heavier flavor (via Eater).