In England, the traditions surrounding Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday, the last Tuesday before the season of Lent, revolved around getting ready for Easter by clearing out the cupboards and making pancakes for the last day of sweet toothed treats.
To this day, many still continue to celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes. However, if you are an adult why not add to the indulgent eating experience with some lovely wine to wash it down?
These following ideas might include drinks that you can find around the house, or in a nearby shop without having to hunt too hard to find to accompany your sweet or savoury pancakes. Remember it is also a ‘school day’, and these recommendations are definitely not aimed at the children’s tea time pancake market. This is 18+ pancakes!
Sweet Pancake Pairings
The drink choice for your pancake will depend on what you are having on top of the hot fried flour dough. Fruit or any sweet toppings will add acid, thus making it a little more tough for pairing decisions.
If you don’t overdo the lemon juice, hunt out a Moscato d’Asti. It is a sweet Italian wine and low in alcohol. If you want to indulge a little, get some Prosecco. Look more for the sweeter versions and please avoid the brut, it will clash. Extra-dry or dry, especially in lower priced brackets will have enough sugar to work with the pancake, just be gentle with the lemon. If you can’t go gentle with the lemon try a cup of Lady Grey tea instead.
There are those who like to put fruit on top of their pancakes. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries will work well with anything sparkling and rose, or mix some of that Prosecco with a sweet mixer such as ‘Apollo 11’. If you have stewed apples, they would go rather nicely with a Tokaji, a young fresher Tokaji rather than one longer aged. These are only pancakes remember!
You may well decide that there are some fruit jams/compotes left and that would seem a sensible idea to use them up. My advice in this case is to see which is the predominant flavour and find a Belgian beer with the same fruit profile.
For the chocolate spread or melted chocolate brigade hunt through the back of the cupboards and see if there is any tawny port left over from late December festivities. Port and chocolate work very well together at all times, not just Shrove Tuesday!
Savoury Pancake Pairings
There are a few savoury ideas here to make the pancake the main meal for the day and not just as the sweet snack.
Stuffing your pancake with ham, cheese and spinach you find yourself in the world of the Breton Pancake. A Soave or Gavi would work very well, but to keep in the Breton tradition try to find a dry cider. The acidity in the cider will work to balance the cooked cheese and the apple edge will help lift the sweetness in the pancake itself.
You might be feeling very adventurous and have Sunday leftovers. Take cooked chicken, chopped small with equally small chopped mushrooms, and cook in a béchamel sauce. Spoon the filling into the pancake and fold the package into a sealed triangle. Fill a baking tray with these and cover the whole lot in béchamel sauce and bake until ready, usually 30 mins, then serve. This will make a wonderful pairing with a Pays D’Oc Chardonnay, and is just such a wonderful Shrove Tuesday supper.
You could even use the pancake-day pancake as a ‘replacement’ to go with crispy duck. If you go down that route then Pinot noir is the wine you are looking for; always a good bet with crispy duck.
So there you have some ideas for a two course pancake based Shrove Tuesday Treat meal, but if you really want to push that boat way out, think of a starter. Think Blini! That small Russian Pancake, topped with cream-cheese, smoked salmon, and then caviar and paired with a sparkling white wine, or option two, probably even better, iced vodka.
So as you celebrate Pancake Day remember pancakes are not just for the children! However, remember that when you pair your pancakes, please pair responsibly for pancake day is always a ‘school-day’. Enjoy and for more pairing ideas find me @thesommelierUK.