Valentine’s Day, thoughts turn to wine and chocolate. Well, ok maybe we think of other things as well, but we do think about giving chocolates. Wouldn’t it be great to give chocolates and experience it with a wonderful wine?
Chocolate is not easy to pair. The general rule with all pairings is the wine should be sweeter than the food, and this applies to chocolate as well. Otherwise the taste will be sour and the finish will be unpleasant. We usually think of Champagne or a Red. But so does everyone else and it seems outdated. Plus the bubbles get in your nose and the red can really ruin the whole experience since there are more bad matches then good ones.
You can’t go wrong with a dessert wine or port with fruity flavors high with residule sugars. If you don’t like sweet wines, Cabernets are a great alternative because a lot of them have a hint of cocoa, along with blackberries and spices. Make sure you don’t grab an oakey Cabernet though as you will be disappointed. The oak doesn’t work well with the sweetness of the chocolate and makes a bad match.
Don’t forget too that there isn’t just one type of chocolate. Dark, white, milk and semi-sweet chocolates all have different characteristics and require a wine that stands on it’s own to the chocolate. A full bodied Zinfandel might work well with dark chocolates while an orange fortified muscat could work well with white chocolates. There is no science to wine paring and the fun is in the experimentation.
Tips for Successfully Pairings Wines with Chocolate
Tip #1: The wine needs to be at least as sweet, if not a sweeter, than the chocolate you are having. Otherwise, the taste may quickly turn towards sour.
Tip #2: Match lighter, more elegant flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines and the stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied the wine should be. For example, a bittersweet chocolate pairs well with an intense California Zinfandel.
Tip #3: If you are experimenting with several varities of chocolates, work from light to dark. Start with a more subtle white chocolate and end on a dark or bittersweet chocolate.
White Chocolate Wine Suggestion.
White chocolate tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry, a Moscato d’Asti, or an Orange Muscat. The Sherry and Moscato d’Asti will pick up the creaminess of the chocolates and the Orange Muscat will pick up any fruit tones present.