Chocolate and Wine Pairings
Photo courtesy Thomas Pitera Photography
Who doesn't like chocolate? Or wine? Or better yet, both?
Wine and chocolate can be the ultimate pairing, but selecting just the right combination can be a bit of a challenge.
Chocolate is a tough food to pair for several reasons. For starters, chocolates have high levels of tannins, the bitter taste imparted by the cacao bean.
Also, different chocolates have varying degrees of sweetness. So, how do you select the perfect match?
Follow this general rule of thumb: the stronger the chocolate, the bolder the wine. Chocolate tends to get "stronger" as the percentage of cacao increases.
Here are some additional tips for pairing wine and chocolate:
Resist the urge to pair sparkling or white wines with chocolate. Champagne and a box of chocolates may sound romantic, but the sweetness of chocolate will make whites and bubblies, which are high in acid content and low in tannins, seem incredibly dry and sour.
If you simply can't resist a sparkler, choose a dessert wine or a demi-sec. A nice Moscato d'Asti, for example, will best complement the chocolate's sweetness.
If sparkling or white wine isn't your thing, choose a bold red wine, like a Cabernet or Merlot, with medium tannins. These are ideal with semisweet and bittersweet chocolates.
Milk chocolate (the sweetest of chocolates) can pair well with lighter, dry reds such as Pinot Noirs and light Merlots, as well as with sweet sherries and young tawny ports.
The best wine pairing for chocolates and chocolate desserts is a sweet fortified dessert wine. Fortified dessert wines are unique because of an added neutral grape brandy. The brandy raises the alcohol content by up to 20 percent, leaving you with a rich and sweet result. Try a bottle of port, sweet sherry or sweet Madeira the next time you sample gourmet chocolates.