As a chocoholic and wine lover, I thought I would do some research into Chocolate and Wine pairing.
Choosing the right wine to complement the right chocolate is largely a matter of your personal taste. I found that the art of pairing the many flavours and qualities of chocolates with the numerous possible permutations of wine is often very controversial.
Whether you are pairing a delicate dessert, a creamy, white chocolate or a high cocoa content, dark, bitter-sweet chocolate with your wine, there are a number of pairing tips to consider.
The main distinctive flavours in wines and in chocolates are the tannins. The taste of chocolate depends mostly on the percentage of the cocoa and its proportion of sugar and milk solids it contains. The higher the concentration of cocoa, the richer the bitter-sweet flavour of the chocolate.
The same goes for your wine. The more tannins, the drier the taste on your palate, leaving a bitter-sweet aftertaste. Wines that have fewer tannins, taste milder and are easier on the palate.
Try to match lighter, more elegant flavoured chocolates with lighter-bodied wines. Darker, stronger chocolates with more full-bodied wine, a bitter-sweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense, tannin-driven wine.
Therefore, dark and bitter-sweet chocolates, that have a high cocoa content, e.g. 85% plus and low sugar content, go best with stronger, drier red wines, e.g. a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, Beaujolais or a Cognac
Sweet Sherry, Tawny Port, etc. are a favourite choice to go with, rich, creamy, fruity or nutty milk chocolates. The more delicately flavoured, white chocolates, may be paired with a mild flavoured Riesling as well as a sparkling wine, such as Champagne.
Wine and chocolate pairing is rather easy with bitter-sweet and medium-sweet chocolates, but more complex when choosing a wine to match with a predominantly sweet chocolate, or a chocolate with an especially subtle flavour and a delicately fragile aroma.
You can start your pairing with a wine that is somewhat sweeter than the chocolate you are tasting. Wine and chocolate have their own natural intensity each “fighting” for dominance on your palate. Let the wine be the dominant part initially.
Then experiment with a selection of light, delicate chocolates first with a light-bodied, sweeter wine, then move to the dark, drier chocolates and the more full-bodied drier wines to find your own personal preferences for which chocolate/wine combinations are perfect for your taste.
Try a high-quality milk chocolate with a Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling or sweet sparkling wine. Strawberries dipped in white chocolate pair really well with the bubbles of a classic Champagne. However, sparkling wines are not the ideal match for high cocoa-based chocolates. A dark, bitter-sweet chocolate is best paired with a Port, Sherry, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. If you like dark chocolate with Almonds or Hazelnuts, as I do, you should experiment with a Madeira, Tawny Port or Sherry.
I am sure you will find that wine and chocolate pairing is very personal and a wine/chocolate combination that works for your palate, may not work for your friends.
So, explore the many different and often controversial opinions on chocolate and wine pairing on the net. It makes a very interesting read.
Let me know what sends you to chocolate and wine heaven. Post a comment.