Two Cures for the Wedding Cake and Champagne Blues

One of my most vivid memories of childhood involves wedding cakes.

My folks owned a bakery, and several times each summer, orders would come in for special cakes to be served on those special days. Dad would sell customers any kind of cake they wanted, as long as it was a standard white cake with buttercream icing—three layers, stacked, with a plastic bride-and-groom figurine on top.

Actually, customers did have one option: They could choose the color of the decorative icing that lined the edges of the cake: pink, yellow or light green. Yes, those were simpler times.

Each summer, I would help Dad deliver the cakes in the family station wagon, which was painted a hideous “mist-turquoise” color courtesy by Earl Scheib (which my dad no doubt selected because of the $29.95 price…no ups, no extras). We would recline the back seat, creating a large flat space, and I would sit back there with the three cake boxes. My job was to make sure they didn’t move around, bump into each other and mess up the icing job.

There was no seat belt, but then, at that point in my development, the cake was worth a lot more than I was. Yes, those were simpler times.

Dad drank Champagne (or some iteration thereof) only once a year—on New Year’s Eve, as long as someone else was picking up the tab. But even with his limited knowledge of wine, he knew instinctively that the dry sparkling wine typically served at wedding receptions would not go well with the sweet icing on the cake. He didn’t have a solution, but he knew it was a pairing nightmare, akin to sucking on a lemon.

Well, with wedding season upon us, and possessing a modicum more wine knowledge than Dad had, I’m here to offer two solutions for the upcoming wedding season:

  1. Serve the sparkling wine and the cake separately. Conclude the toasting, then slice the cake, and place pitchers of ice water on the tables.
  2. Serve a slightly sweet sparkling wine (look for “demi-sec,” “sec” or the misleading “extra dry” verbiage on the bottle) with the cake.

Sweet with sweet can work. Sweet with dry… not so much. You don’t want your first argument as a married couple to be over wine.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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