Perfect match

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 October, 2009, 12:00am

Mooncakes are not the healthiest of foods: the pastry is traditionally made of sugar and lard (although some use butter or oil), and while the filling can range from sweetened lotus paste or mashed red beans to nuts and ham, it usually contains cholesterol-laden salted duck eggs. All in all, it's a formidable mouthful - I've never met anyone who can eat a whole mooncake. For traditional mooncakes, the best drink to serve (other than hot tea) should connect to the dark notes of the filling and pastry while also adding liveliness.

Hennessy XO Cognac, France

This cognac goes well with mooncakes mainly because it's one of the fruitiest around. Other cognacs may give the impression of sweetness, but on closer scrutiny, it is nothing more than their sweet oak and oxidised spirits character. Hennessy XO is a blend of fruity eau de vie that follows through the ageing process. It's fruity without being excessive, honest and classy at the same time. Mooncakes with lesser cognacs will leave your mouth with puckering tannins and staleness. With this cognac, the mooncakes are connected with the brown flavours from the ageing process while the fruity eau de vie core brings much needed relief and freshness to the pairing. Available for HK$1,290 from Moet Hennessy Diageo (tel: 2976 1888)

Paul Jaboulet Aine Muscat de Beaumes de Venise le Chant des Griolles 2007, Rhone, France

This suggestion from a friend deserves a mention: take a slice of mooncake with salted egg yolk, heat it in the microwave until the lotus paste is soft and pliable, then top it with vanilla ice cream. The intense and powerful mooncake ensures the vanilla richness is carried through, while the ice cream returns the favour by giving the mooncake freshness. The freshness and fruitiness of this sweet wine offers some high notes to this non-traditional mooncake and ice cream combination. The rich and rounded wine combined with ice cream and duck egg gives the combination a Jekyll and Hyde edge that dances between sweet and savoury. Available for HK$230 (half-bottle) or HK$475 (standard bottle) from Links Concept (tel: 2802 2818)

Guinness Stout

This is what you need to wash away the remnants of over-indulging during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Guinness is as rich and dark as a mooncake. The silky gas and dark malty tones of the stout melt into the mooncake, giving the impression of volume without much physical weight. The savoury and slightly bitter Guinness counteracts the dense lotus paste and heavy pastry, giving it a cleansing finish. About HK$12 from supermarkets