Pancake Day: the perfect wine pairings for your favourite pancake toppings
Pancake Day is upon us, and in the spirit of never doing things by a half measure, we’ve compiled this guide to the perfect pairings for your favourite pancake toppings with the expert help of Master of Wine Patrick Schmitt.
If you’re looking to indulge in the ultimate Pancake Day feast this evening, then look no further than this handy guide – you’ll be raving about the flavour combinations until this time next year once you’ve tried out these wine pairings for pancakes.
1. Cheese and Ham
For those with a penchant for savoury crepes, cheese and ham is a logical starting point – and a classic combination. Patrick Schmitt MW says of the topping:
“If you’re going the savoury route, and stuffing your pancake with cheese and ham, I suggest a rich white wine, the most obvious being a classic barrel-aged Chardonnay from a warm climate. Such a wine style won’t be overpowered by the flavours in the food, while the dry, bright finish of well-made Chardonnay will refresh the mouth after all that mouth-coating cheese.
“With the current trend in Chardonnay-making in Australia favouring a leaner style of white wine, I suggest going to California for something with the richness that made this grape so popular in the first place. In this year’s Global Chardonnay Masters, I tasted an ideal option in Cambria’s Katherine’s Chardonnay from California’s Santa Maria Valley. I blind-tasted the 2018 vintage, which, along with my fellow Master of Wine judges, I gave a Gold-medal-winning score for its combination of peach and pear fruit, as well as notes of toast and caramel, and gently oily palate texture. And, retailing in the UK for around £25, it’s surprisingly affordable for powerful barrel-aged Californian Chardonnay with class.”
2. Lemon and Sugar
Lemon and sugar really is the go-to combination for a simple yet tough-to-beat pancake. There’s a reason why it’s likely the first flavour combo that comes to mind when you think of Pancake Day. A real winner. As for the pairing?
“For me, there’s no better filling for pancakes than a generous squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar, making for an indulgent, zesty feast,” Patrick Schmitt says.
“When it comes to finding a partner for this, I’m drawn to the sweeter end of the Champagne spectrum, where citrus and sweetness, along with fizz, are combined to deliver something mouth-filling and refreshing.
“If you do choose to go this route, then I suggest opting for a demi-sec style of Champagne or sweeter, and a brilliant option is Piper-Heidsieck’s Cuvée Sublime. It was the standout sweeter sample in 2020’s Champagne Masters, with a dosage of 35g/l, not that it tastes especially saccharine. Expect a delicious combination of flavours, from yellow fruit, creamy coffee and grilled nuts, while it finishes with a soft, gently candied character.”
Nutella has taken the pancake world by storm in recent years with obvious broad appeal for those with a sweet tooth and a love of nutty chocolate. As for what to drink it with, Patrick Schmitt recommends an Aged Tawny Port.
“If you’re going the indulgent route and stuffing your pancake with the rich, creamy, chocolate and hazelnut flavours of Nutella then you need something unctuous and powerful to drink with it,” he explains.
“I suggest trying an Aged Tawny Port, and preferably something with at least 30 years spent slowly maturing in casks, allowing the fruit to raisin, and the wine to take on a nutty richness, like your chosen filling. Once you get to 30-year-old Tawny styles, the cost of the drop does get quite high, but it will be worth it for the concentration of flavours, from dried fig to sugar coated nuts. Either Graham’s or Taylor’s 30 year old Tawnies offer brilliant examples of this Port style, or, for something that bit more luxurious, and outstanding, Noval 40 year old. Please serve these richly-sweet fortified wines chilled – they offer more refreshment at a lower temperature.”
4. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a popular pancake topping choice in several parts of the world, though pairing it with a wine might seem like a tricky business.
“A pancake drenched in maple syrup is one of life’s great pleasures, if a powerfully-flavoured challenge for any wine,” Patrick Schmitt concurs.
“But there is an option that can take this head on, and that’s Pedro Ximenez ‘PX’ Sherry. With its extremely high sugar content – over 300g/l – and flavours of raisins and dates, it would make a suitable partner for the sweetest of pancake dishes, so be liberal with the syrup, but perhaps go easy on the Pedro Ximenez. After all, this is the wine world’s most concentrated liquid, aside from Tokaji Essencia – although that has an abv at least five times lower than the sherry.”
— Waitrose Wine (@waitrosewine) October 7, 2016
5. Strawberries and Cream
Though a quintessential mainstay of the British Summertime, strawberries and cream are also a popular pancake filling and a mouthwatering prospect at any time of the year. Patrick Schmitt says:
“Having something sweet, creamy and fruity when it comes to your pancake fest? Well, I think you need something similar in wine terms, and for this, I have two Italian sparkling options. One is a delicious, peachy, sweet style of Prosecco with a lemon-zest edge called Cartizze. It’s wonderful, but also rare and pricey – Bisol make an outstanding version, although, at around £50, it costs more than 5 times your standard Prosecco.”
“The other is an even sweeter style of Italian fizz, but with a lower cost (and abv), and that is Moscato d’Asti, with its creamy, raisin and fresh grape flavours along with gentle, cleansing sparkling. You might want to try one from famous Piedmontese wine producer Pio Cesare, which costs around £15.”
Go forth and enjoy your most luxurious Pancake Day yet – with these wine pairings you’re sure to hit the spot no matter which topping you choose.