Weddings and cakes have been a tradition for centuries, in some ways dating as far back as ancient Rome. Of course, all of your guests will be expecting a delicious dessert in one form or another, and you’re likely just as excited to cut your cake with your partner.
Wedding cake flavors have no limit, though chocolate and vanilla are traditional favorites. Tasting combinations of cake, frosting, meringue, and more is the sweetest to-do in wedding planning. The only way to make it better is with a perfectly paired wine, so we decided to do just that and compiled this wine and cake pairing guide.
Bringing wine and cake pairings to your reception is a creative way to elevate your event, and it gives your guests a topic of conversation. You can push the experience even further and tie the theme with your wedding favors by gifting custom wine glasses or creating DIY cocktail kits.
To get you started, check out our guide on cake and wine pairings and why they work. If you or your guests don’t drink, we have you covered with suggested mocktails.
Vanilla cake is a wedding favorite and goes beautifully with a Riesling. An off-dry Riesling is sweet enough to compete, but won’t overpower the cake’s flavor.
Mocktail: Try a Lavender Lemonade for a citrus flavor subdued with gentle florals.
The Amarone is very similar to a Port dessert wine. This full-bodied red has a rich chocolate flavor, with spiced and coffee undertones. While it’s an international favorite, it’s on the expensive side—if you’re on a budget, a Ripasso is a good substitute.
Mocktail: A Roy Rogers’s cherry-cola flavor is a delightful match for the rich chocolate cake.
What’s more fun than funfetti cake? Funfetti cake with rosé, of course. It’s deliciously sweet, and the bubbling strawberry flavor matches the sweetness of the vanilla and mood of the cake.
Mocktail: Virgin Watermelon Margarita—fun and fruity flavor with lots of colors, just like the funfetti.
Prosecco is a light and bubbly wine with tangy citrus notes, so it’s a natural choice for the refreshing lemon and raspberry cake. The delicate flavors of the cake are enhanced by the Prosecco’s bubbles.
Mocktail: Mango Mule’s are refreshing drinks made of cucumber and lemon and perfect for a warm summer wedding.
A Chardonnay from a warm climate is ripe with sweet fruit-flavors—perfect for the strawberry flavor in the pink champagne cake. An unoaked Chardonnay has a bright flavor to match the champagne and the higher acidity pairs well with a meringue buttercream icing.
Mocktail: Offer this cake with Strawberry Fields, a sparkling drink made of club soda, hibiscus, and strawberry syrup. Perfectly sweet and floral to match the delicate flavor of pink champagne.
Citrus and wine is a tough combination, but a sweet Riesling is just the match. German Rieslings hold ripe notes that pair well with tropical fruit like pineapple and coconut. Specifically, you’ll want the Trockenbeerenauslese—a mouthful, we know.
Mocktail: The Riki Tiki Tavi is delightful with this destination dessert and made with pineapple puree, lime juice, coconut, and caramel.
Rich and delicious red velvet is made for a Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are luscious with cocoa flavors, and the wine has a secondary vanilla note to complement the cream cheese icing.
Mocktail: The Chocolate-Covered Strawberry is a favorite wedding treat and a delicious mocktail. Combine simple strawberry syrup, milk chocolate, and half-and-half for a rich cocoa drink to match with red velvet.
Ports are well-loved dessert wines from Portugal and are a natural choice for sweet treats. The Tawny Port’s primary notes are caramel and hazelnut, with secondary berry and mocha flavors.
Mocktail: The Nutella Martini—made of hazelnut and chocolate—is a rich and delightful pair with this cake.
Madeira is another great Portuguese sweet wine, showcasing almond, caramel, and coffee notes. The coffee and cream cake with Madeira's similar richness, warmth, and flavor profile make for a strong match.
Mocktail: Try a Salted Caramel White Russian to match the creamy coffee flavors in both drink and dessert.
The cream in this cake can be hard to pair, and Pinot Noir is a great choice to match the sweet chocolate and cream in cookies and cream.
Mocktail: Continue with the chocolate and milk combination with an Iced Chocolate, made of cocoa, mint, milk, and gelato.
A Pinot Gris is plenty sweet, with apple and pear fruit notes, so it works well with a dessert. It also carries its own sweet spice flavors, making it the perfect companion for the spice cake’s warmth.
Mocktail: Warm and spicy, a Hot Not Toddy is a fall favorite without the liquor and a wonderful pair with a spice cake.
Again, Ports are delicious dessert wines that come in several flavors. A Tawny Port with cinnamon and caramel flavors would be a wonderful match. You can brighten the cake’s flavor with a White Port, carrying notes of baked apple and roasted nuts.
Mocktail: Fruity with a kick, try a Pineapple Ginger Beer with your caramel apple cake for a refreshing addition to the warm and sticky cake.
A fruit wine, crisp and delicious, is a great contrast to the warm and gooey marshmallow and chocolate of a s’more. It helps balance the richness of the cake while matching its sweetness.
Mocktail: S’mores are better with s’more, so choose a S’moretini for your non-drinking guests. Milk, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, and marshmallow cream are all you need.
If the above pairings aren’t a perfect match for your dream day, you can still build your own dessert tasting with a few things in mind. Choose a few pairings to try, then bring our taste-pairing printable to your bakery and enjoy! It’s perfect for a bachelorette party or wedding shower activity, too.
The most important rule to keep in mind is to match sweetness. If the dessert is too much sweeter than the wine, then the wine will flatten and taste more bitter than it should otherwise. A good guide is to look for “late harvest” on labels, meaning riper fruits were used so it’s a sweeter wine.
When pairing with chocolates, red blends are best. They share a similar sweetness, and the light berry flavors and tannins of chocolate match the berries and tannins in red wines. Be mindful of the chocolate and wine’s weight and flavor when choosing your pairs.
Heavy fruit flavors do well with rosés because of their light and refreshing sweet flavors. White wines also do well with fruit, as well as most pastries, custards, and vanillas. Moscatos and Rieslings are easy matches for desserts if you’re having a hard time pairing.
If you’re still looking for inspiration and dessert ideas, check out the cake and wine pairing infographic below.
Wine and dessert pairing bring two of our favorite worlds together and are a fun way to add something extra for your guests. Be mindful to match flavor profiles and sweetness, and you can find the perfect vino match for your wedding dessert menu.