Although we have no idea why, there seems to be a general perception that chocolate and wine go well together. Pairing food and wine is almost a science, but what about chocolate? Let’s consider for a moment whether it’s just a concept somebody invented to increase sales on Valentine’s Day, or if it is something worth exploring.
Chocolate and Wine Are Miles Apart
First of all the unlikely pair come from completely different geographical locations. Most of the cacao trees in the world are grown in hot and humid places like South America, West Africa and Asia – not really ideal areas for wine production. Although wine is also produced in South America, the best known wine countries are Chile and Argentina – not Ecuador and Brazil, where cacao is grown.
This does not necessarily mean that the two don’t match. Anybody who has had chocolate covered cherries or has dipped strawberries into a chocolate fondue fountain will tell you that fruit and chocolate can go very well together indeed. Continue reading
Having just passed Valentine’s Day, I now understand the perfection that can be achieved by paring excellent chocolate with wine. Wow. Heavenly! Finding the right wine to sip with particular type of chocolate takes some experimentation but the results are well worth the effort.
Lighter bodied wines are an excellent choice to go with lighter chocolates with more elegant flavors. For instance, a mellow and buttery chocolate such as white chocolate pairs perfectly with a good sherry. To go a bit bolder, try something sweet and bubbly or even a Muscat, such as Moscato d’Asti. While each of these selections will complement the chocolate, a wine with more contrast, such as a heavier zinfandel, can even out the flavors into a sort of melding affect.
Going with the Dark
Bittersweet chocolate with a minimum of 88% cocoa content calls for a wine that offers a slightly robust and roasted flavor, which may even be linked with a note of chocolate. Any favorite cab or even a zinfandel, such as Rancho Zaabaco, should do the trick. But if you decide to drop the cocoa content to 55%, then try a Pinot Noir or a Merlot. Choose a full bodied vintage that will mirror the palate of the dark chocolate’s textures and you have yourself a winner!
Milk chocolate and Wine
In my opinion, this one is a bit trickier. Champagne or any dry sparkling white wine is a no-brainer for a delicacy such as chocolate dipped strawberries, or a rich mousse, but with a chocolate bar, the only thing that comes to mind is a light bodied Merlot or even a Riesling. For anyone with a really sweet tooth, a Muscat could be served with milk chocolate, but I cannot actually recommend this choice.