by Corin Hirsch
As a dedicated wine drinker, I can be reluctant to admit that beer pairs stunningly well with food. Yet it can be the naked truth, and one encountered in the unlikeliest of places — such as at my little cupcake in Burlington.
For the past few weeks, the bakers at my little cupcake have been hosting a Friday night fête called 3 Sweet Treats, offering guests the chance to pair three petite desserts with wines chosen by Brad Kelley of the Burlington Wine Shop — for a 10-spot.
You can also drop in at the College Street bakery whenever it's open (till 8 p.m. during the week, 10 p.m. on weekends) to approximate the experience; on the counter is a standing beer and wine menu, including a "free mini cupcake or cake pop" with each drink.
The alcohol menu is static — the choices include Prosecco, red wine, local beer and even ChocoVine — but the paired treats rotate based on what's been baked that day. On the dreary afternoon I visited, I sampled three pairings that sounded promising: Prosecco with a sesame-ginger cupcake; Cabernet Sauvignon with a red-velvet cupcake; and a bottle of Harpoon Octoberfest with a salted-caramel cupcake.
The sesame-ginger cupcake with Lunetta Prosecco ($8) was a slightly clunky pairing, the zesty cake jangling against the crisp but tart sparkler. The next combo — a dark-red-velvet cupcake with Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon — was moodier, silkier and definitely cold-weather friendly.
It was the malty Octoberfest that practically sang with the salted-caramel cupcake, each coaxing out the other's spiciness — and who doesn't love beer with salt? As I pressed on through all the other possible combinations, the beer also cast a flattering light on both the sesame-ginger and red-velvet cupcakes — and, in turn, the Prosecco loved on the salted-caramel treats.
It was a rollicking sensory adventure, but, sadly, I needed to leave most of the alcohol behind. Tonight, I may try to make up for it by swinging by for chocolate-pistachio cupcakes, lemon-raspberry cheesecake and salted-caramel cake pops; it will be fun to see which wines can trump their hoppy and malty cousins.
3 Sweet Treats, every Friday night at my little cupcake, 217 College Street, Burlington. 802-660-9330