With all the buzz about meat and cheese pairings, dessert often gets left in the dust during wine talk. However, Black Forest cake — a decadent combination of rich chocolate and tangy cherry flavors — features a flavor profile as robust as its long history, which dates back to the 16th century. The selection of complementary pairings for Black Forest cake isn’t immense, but the wines that do work are a diverse and flavorful collection of bottles.
For a traditional Black Forest cake, few wine pairings beat a Syrah from Washington, Australia or the French Rhone Valley. Steer clear of sweeter Syrah in favor of a warmer, more full-bodied variety. The jammy, fruity tones of this wine — typically black cherry or currant — make a nice complement to the cherry flavor of the cake while its spicy, tobacco undertones gently mingle with the chocolate. Keep a little Syrah handy for the next time you have rhubarb pie, too.
Port has a longstanding reputation as a dessert wine and the rule goes unbroken here — the classic Douro Valley fortified wine plays very nice with a slice of Black Forest cake. Tawny — a type of barrel-aged port made from red grapes — goes particularly well, as it nutty taste complements the chocolate of the cake. Sweet port offers a pleasing contrast Black Forest cakes that have a slightly tart cream cheese icing.
If Black Forest cake proves one thing, it proves that few flavors go as well together as chocolate and cherries. By pairing your cake with a glass of late-harvest California Zinfandel, you can really take advantage of this flavor blend. These Zins often feature shades of cherry and raspberry — the former heightens the fruit flavors already present in the cake while the tangy raspberries add additional complexity to bittersweet chocolate.
While wine pairings often revel in complex flavors, wild blackberry wine, a distinctly American vino, offers a boldly simple pairing for Black Forest cake. Especially if your cake features darker, richer chocolate, this full-bodied, intensely flavorful wine emboldens the flavors of the cake, lending the dessert a rich and fruity edge. Try it with chocolate mousse or black walnut cake as well.
References and ResourcesState of Indiana: The Indiana Insider Blog: National Black Forest Cake Day -- March 28, 2013
Kendall-Jackson: Pairing by Varietal
Palm Springs Life: Pairing Ports
Washingtonian: Match Game: Pairing Wine and Chocolate
Tabor Home Vinyards and Winery: Food Pairings
Coborn's: Wine Pairings
ResourcesEpicurious: Black Forest Cake
Serious Eats: A Guide to Wine and Dessert Pairings