Some swear by it, others swear off it.
But if you select the right wine to complement the right chocolate, you can create a cupid-sent match. Most agree, chocolate and wine are two of life’s greatest pleasures. Alone, that is. They have much in common: both are made from fruit (chocolate is derived from cocoa nibs - the seeds of the fruit of the cocoa tree), both reflect the terroir of where they were grown (flavour and aroma compounds in both cacao pod and grape reflect their growing conditions, soil, climate, root stock and harvest), both are typically blends of beans or grapes, selected to complement the whole. And perhaps most telling? Most have a vocabulary of dozens of words to describe flavour, texture, body and aroma. The following are published reviews – two for chocolate and two for wine. Can you tell which is which? *answers following the wines below
1 – “complex, with a floral aroma and herbal notes”
2 – “bold chocolate flavour with subtle coffee notes in this smooth blend”
3 – “smooth, rich and full, with caramel notes”
4 – “alluring fig, mocha, boysenberry ganache and sweet spice”
If you forget everything else, remember this: The wine should be at least as sweet, if not a touch sweeter, than the chocolate you are serving it with.
Pairing a wine that is drier than the chocolate will make the wine veer towards sour and flat.
Like with Like
Match lighter, more elegant chocolates with lighter bodied wines. Likewise, a stronger, robust chocolate would suit a full bodied wine.
But Don’t Go Overboard
Don’t go all matchy-matchy. Chocolate and cocoa are often terms used to describe flavours in red wines – this does not mean that all red wines and chocolate are a pair made.
Let Out Your Inner Chef
Flavours you find in chocolate bars (caramel, nuts, raspberry) are often flavours found in wines. Think about flavours, seek those bottles out and give them a go.
Chocolatiers use texture and weight to add complexity and body. Wines with a rich textural heft and chewiness will be your best bet for these strong chocolates.
Break Away from the Bubble
Contrary to popular belief, champagne and chocolate do not typically play well together. With the sweet chocolate, champagne comes across tart - even the demi-secs (sweeter styles) are usually too delicate to stand up to the coating cocoa butter mouthfeel. Save the champagne for strawberries.
If you’re only buying one single table wine to go with your chocolate tasting, choose a juicy red that is low in tannins (i.e. Zinfandel).
Follow the Pattern
If you are tasting numerous wines and chocolates (recommended), work from light chocolates to dark. Start with a subtle plain white bar, and end with a rich bittersweet one.
Don’t Storm the Fort(ifieds)
Fortified wines, with their higher liquor content, smoother body and bolder taste, are generally great partners with chocolate.
Open the Liqueur Cabinet
Liqueurs can be a fantastic match for stronger flavours, therefore they tend to favour dark chocolates. The softer, sweeter flavor of milk chocolate is overwhelmed by their intensity.
Be Bold, like Sparkling Shiraz
Get out there and taste! Sometimes atypical combinations work best. Don’t be afraid to try unique wines, like sparkling shiraz, or deeper lambrusco, with your sweet fix.
Here are our Top 10 Wines recently tasted at GOW that we would bring to the chocolate party.
*Wine/Chocolate Description Quiz - #1, 2 are both published quotes describing chocolate and #3, 4 are published quotes describing wine.