As the Mid-Autumn Festival rolls around, we once again consider the mooncake: dense, sweet and almost threateningly rich. While the traditional treats are usually had with Chinese tea to refresh the palate, hotels are increasing selling their offerings with a boozy beverage companion.
For Marriott Tang Plaza’s Chinese restaurant Wan Hao, it’s a baked confection that includes red date paste, salted egg and Bayonne ham. It’s pairing this with a sweet wine to stand up to all those flavours – a 2015 First Growth Sauternes from Chateau Rieussec that bursts with pineapple, honey and beeswax.
Champagne also seems to be a popular pairing choice this year as the dry, acidic bubbly cuts through the richness of mooncakes. Cantonese restaurant Madame Fan marries a bottle of Louis Roederer’s Brut Premier with your choice of flavours in its mooncake box set.
Meanwhile, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore pairs its low-sugar baked mooncakes with the Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label – a crowd-pleasing bubbly proffering generous depth.
(Related: The Tao of Tea)
Sip and Savour
We enlist the help of sommeliers Gerald Lu and Tok Yui Shuen of wine bar Praelum to suggest other pairings for some of the most popular mooncake flavours around.
01 Snowskin with fruit-based fillings
Citrus, berry, or other fruit-flavoured snowskin mooncakes will do well with the fruit-forward sweetness of late-harvest wines. Try a vendange tardive (late harvest) gewurztraminer or pinot gris.
02 Durian Snowskin
The intensity and complexity of durians require something similarly powerful to stand up to this king of fruits. A botrytis sweet wine would have the necessary character – honey, beeswax and dried fruits. Try an aged, high quality sweet riesling – the petrol-like notes of the wine will play off durian’s funkier flavours.
03 Classic Baked
Baked mooncakes tend to be rich, even more so with salted egg yolks. Try a recioto (the sweet cousin of amarone) from Italy or a even a vin doux naturel, a French fortified wine. Both have darker, richer flavours, and, in the case of the vin doux naturel, an “oxidative profile” that adds a nice dimension to the classics.
04 Gula Melaka, Coconut, Pandan
Locally inspired flavours tend to have similar profiles. Whether it’s ondeh ondeh or kaya – very popular options this year – these mooncakes tend to include coconut and deeper, slightly savoury flavours that are a complementary match with intensely sweet, chocolatey pedro ximenez sherry.