The chocolate-wine pairing is one of life’s best. They go together like milk and cookies, or peanut butter and jelly.
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Serving wine and chocolate together is a great way to spend an evening with your closest friends. It also makes a fantastic dessert course when you’re hosting a dinner party. As with most foods, certain wines pair better with certain kinds of chocolates. It’s a good idea to learn which types compliment each other before you buy them to ensure the perfect pairing. For example, you might think that a rich, dry red pairs well with dark chocolate, but that’s not necessarily the case. Both chocolate and wine have tannins (also known as flavanols) that can create an unpleasant taste when mixed. Once you know which wines and chocolates go together best, you’ll be able to choose those perfect pairings with ease.
White Chocolate-Wine Pairings:
White chocolate is pairs perfectly with many wines. As the editorial staff of Wine Folly explains, there are actually a lot of options:
- Ice wine – Ice wines are known for being sweeter than most. Riesling varieties with strong hints of citrus are good choices pair with white chocolate.
- Pinot Noir – It’s a popular assumption that red wines go best with dark chocolate. However, Pinot Noirs pair surprisingly well with white chocolate. The chocolate enhances the wine’s rich berry profile.
- Brachetto D’Aqui – The crisp, sparkling sweetness of this wine’s raspberry undertones make it a perfect choice to accompany white chocolate.
- Zinfandel – White chocolate enhances the candied fruit flavors of some Zinfandels; making them much more intense. The higher acidity of red Zinfandels can also increase the sweetness of white chocolate.
Full-bodied cherry or berry Cabernet’s pair well with dark chocolate.
Milk Chocolate-Wine Pairings:
As Stacy Slinkard of The Spruce describes, the creamy smoothness of milk chocolate makes it easy to pair with a large number of wines. A few of the more popular wines to pair with milk chocolate are:
- Merlots – Sophisticated medium-bodied wines like Merlots tend to bring out the cocoa in milk chocolate, enhancing its richness. Merlots will also compliment desserts like chocolate cheesecake or black forest cake.
- Moscato – A Moscato with a floral bouquet, fresh fruity flavor, and just a touch of fizz makes for a delicious milk chocolate partnership.
- Ruby Port – The union of berries and spices in Ruby Port deepen the sweetness profile of the chocolate. This is one of the most popular wines to pair with milk chocolate.
- Lambrusco di Sorbara – This is a sparkling red wine that carries just a hint of strawberry and peach, both flavors that compliment chocolate.
Dark Chocolate-Wine Pairings
As Fiona Beckett of Decanter notes, dark chocolate generally requires a wine with more acidity to counterbalance the bitterness. Some examples of wines that go well with dark chocolate are:
- Madeira – A dry Madeira with a profile of roasted hazelnut or burnt sugar can give dark chocolate the richness it’s missing on its own.
- Barolo Chinato – This aromatic wine gains its distinct bitter edge from a mixture of spices and herbs. The bitterness of both wine and chocolate come together well, making them a good dessert choice.
- Port – Port tends to be sweeter than dark chocolate. The sweetness of the wine makes it a great counterbalance to the chocolate’s bitter hints. Tawny Port is also a delicious choice for any kind of dessert with elements of dark chocolate.
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Full-bodied cherry or berry Cabernets pair well with dark chocolate. For a bit of a twist, try pairing licorice or black pepper Cabernets to see how the flavor profiles of wine and chocolate react with each other.
Flavored Chocolate-Wine Pairings
Flavored chocolate is also a popular dessert indulgence. Pairing a wine with flavored chocolate is not as cut and dried as it might seem and may require some experimentation. A Zinfandel with a strong cinnamon profile, for example, may match well with dark chocolate ginger. Mint chocolate desserts can pair well with Syrah. Chocolate covered fruit, such as strawberries, will taste even better when paired with either sparkling ice wines or sweet sparkling reds.
Learning As You Go
Pairing wine with chocolate can be as simple as enjoying peanut butter cups with a small glass of Marsala. You can increase the sophistication factor by making a dessert with chocolate elements (such as mousse, cheesecake, or trifle) and then choose a wine that matches it best. As Amy Gross of Wine4Me explains, experimentation is key: You’ll have to sample different wines with various types of chocolate to find the flavor profiles that you like most. A complicated chocolate dessert doesn’t necessarily call for a rich red wine. Consider all the flavors involved: are there any hints of fruit or spices? If so, a Riesling or Merlot can be a better choice. Recognizing the different flavors involved can help you make an educated choice.
Wine can be the perfect accompaniment to any kind of chocolate, regardless of whether you are eating it straight from the package a handful at a time, or having a piece of Black Forest cake. Everyone’s flavor preferences are different. Don’t be afraid to experiment or do your homework to find out which chocolate and wine pairings you like best!