Nothing says romance quite like chocolate and wine. However, a bad pairing of the two can be cringe-worthy. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this guide will ensure you don’t make any pairing faux pas.
First things first: Wine tastes bitter if it is less sweet than the chocolate you are eating it with. In order to avoid a bitter flavor combination, it is important that the wine be as sweet (or sweeter) than the chocolate!
Another general rule is that the darker the chocolate, the darker the wine. So, reds are ideal for dark chocolate. That being said, wines with soft, rounded tannins pair better with chocolate, so avoid heavily tannic reds, even with a bittersweet dark chocolate.
White chocolate is not actually considered chocolate, because it doesn’t include cocoa, just cocoa fat. This allows it to pair with a wider variety of wines. Our pairing? Ice Wine, Muscat, Moscato d’Asti, or a fruit forward Chardonnay, These wines will pick up on the buttery, fatty tones, enhancing both the wine, and chocolate. Fruit forward wines can add tropical notes as well, which are delightful!
The higher percentage of of sugar and milk, along with a smaller percentage of cocoa results in a sweeter, more mild chocolate. Keeping that in mind, look for wines that are on the sweeter side. Our pairing? Light reds, as well as sweet whites will be playful and not overpower the chocolate.Try (New World) Merlot or Pinot Noir, Riesling, or dessert wine.
A true dark chocolate has a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, but can have far more. Because of the intensity of flavors, bittersweet and dark chocolates need to be paired with stronger red wines with concentrated fruit notes. Even at the lighter end of dark chocolate, more robust wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Amarone, and Port will pair perfectly. Chocolate with 70% or more cocoa is considered bittersweet, opening up a whole range of wines that would not pair as nicely with a lighter chocolate. Bordeaux, Beaujolais, and Shiraz are playful combinations.
Chocolate with nuts:
Accentuating the nutty flavors in the chocolate with a wine that has similar qualities will make this pairing one you’ll go back to time and time again. A safe bet? Amontillado Sherry and Madeira are wines that nutty and rich profile will play off a nutty chocolate. This pairing will also work for peanut butter chocolates.
When in doubt…
champagne and other sparkling wines tend to pair with all types of chocolate. Try champagne or sparkling wine with all chocolate types. The crisp, dry flavour of the bubbly contrasts perfectly with the creaminess, and the bubbles cut the fattiness of chocolate. Many fortified dessert wines work well across the chocolate spectrum as well. Port, for example, is a fortified wine, is perfect for most chocolates . Its nutty nuances can highlight chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes, enhancing the overall chocolate flavor.
In the end, the most surefire way to find a chocolate and wine pairing you love is to experiment a lot. Let us know if you try any of the above combinations, or if you have one of your own! You can comment here (on our blog,) on Facebook or in the store. We are excited to hear from you! We also deliver locally, to East Hampton, Wainscott, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, and Montauk.
Pauline Fink, Staff