Chocolate and wine pairing can be a divine experience for your senses - a match made in heaven that you truly need to experience if you haven’t already!
As with food and wine matching in general, we don’t think you should get too hung up or confused about it. However when drinking wine with food, you will have found that at times sublime sensory moments happen, don’t they?
You hit on a perfect match between what you are eating and what you are drinking. The more you can orchestrate that happening the more you’ll enjoy yourself!
Chocolate and Wine Pairings – to be or not to be?
It’s one of those tricky and much-discussed combinations, the only sure-fire answer is that if a pairing works for you, then that pairing is a success.
With a colossal abundance of flavours and types of chocolate now available (geranium, pistachio or banana anyone?), then if you enjoy experimenting and aren’t afraid to try something new, you can have fun!
Did you know chocolate and wine are made in the same way? (including a fermentation, the same yeasts). Did you also know cocoa trees grow some 12-15 metres high, and produce just 20-30 cocoa pods (like small yellow rugby balls), with each tree producing just a few bars of chocolate?!
Understanding how cocoa beans are turned into chocolate and how some chocolates are made sweet or intensely bitter can help you understand why certain chocolate and wine pairings generally work and others don’t. And hey, both can even good for you!
Where to start?
Here’s some basic advice about pairing chocolate and wine: pairing chocolate and wine can be tricky, largely because the products can have so much in common - the tannins in each one fighting on your palate. A sweet chocolate for example makes very dry wines bitter and thin, masking delicate fruity flavours.
Lighter chocolate in terms of how intense the flavour is, should be matched with lighter wines, and the more intense chocolates with bigger wines or fortified wines. More often than not we are talking red rather than white wine.
Generally, you want your wine to be sweeter than your chocolate. Match the right chocolate with the right wine - white, red, sparkling, fortified, sweet - and chocolate can really accentuate or even introduce new flavours.
Without further ado, here are a few specific ideas from our wine and drinks selection. Naturally, we are bound to recommend going for good quality and preferably organic chocolate too.
Pairing wine with milk chocolate
The sweetness in milk chocolate can also range, but generally it’s between 35-55% cocoa content. If you have something with around 35% cocoa, it will likley be more sweet than a chocolate with 55%. Milk and lighter chocolates should be matched with lighter wines, like a Pinot Noir or a lighter Merlot. Sweeter and more aromatic whites (Friulano, Riesling, or Gerwurztraminer) can also be a good choice for milk chocolate.
Pairing wine with dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is less sweet than milk chocolate and quite a popular type of chocolate today. It has a higher cocoa content, which can go up to even 90%! For dark chocolates, you’ll want to choose a bigger wine, like an Amarone della Valpolicella, or even a fortified wine.
Our favorite is Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG from Giovanni Ederle. The aromas of cherries soaked in alcohol and licorice, the warm and mouth-filling floral, dried and ripe fruits, and the smooth and ripe tannins are a match made in heaven for a (preferably large) piece of dark chocolate.
How to taste chocolate and wine together
How do you taste? Take your time, as this is a 5 sensory experience. First unwrap your chocolate, sniff, inhale and identify its aromas. It should be room temperature.
Then break off a piece, put this into your mouth and allow it to melt on your tongue (don’t devour, tempting though it might be), noting the flavours and whether the chocolate tastes bitter or sweet, before swallowing.
Next take your wine, looking for appearance and aromas, taking a mouthful, noting the dryness or sweetness, fruitiness, acidity and weight.
Now put another piece of chocolate in your mouth, and as it melts, whilst the chocolate still coats your tongue, take a sip of wine, and think about how this combination is crafting itself before you. Does it work, or not? Take notes if you like!
Rocket science it ain’t, and we hope you will enjoy some experimenting. Why not let us know some of your successes, or even epic failures?!
Ultimately remember that as above, guidelines are just guidelines, nothing more, and whatever tastes good for you has got to be a win.
Image credits: Tamas Pap