Chocolate is the confectionery match to wine. Perhaps this is because the process of making chocolate is very similar to wine. Both cocoa beans and wine are fermented with the very same type of yeast. No wonder there are so many wine and chocolate lovers!
Despite the affinity for one another, many wine and chocolate pairings fight for the same ‘palate space’ which can lead to a less than desirable experience. Thankfully this guide will give you everything you need to create the very best wine and chocolate pairings.
If you’re into technicalities, white chocolate isn’t really ‘chocolate’ because it doesn’t include cocoa, just cocoa fat. This little fact makes it one of the more versatile pairings with wine.
Recommended Wines: Rosé Port, Ice Wine, Muscat, Orange Muscat, Moscato d’Asti, Sweet Tokaji, Vintage Port, Lambrusco (Dolce or Amabile), Brachetto d’Acqui.
Tastes Like Strawberries - The new style of Port, Rosé Port, adds nuances of strawberries.
Good with Macadamia Nuts - A Muscat such as Muscat de Frontignan will add tropical fruit flavors–a great fit for white chocolate macadamia nut cookies!
Blueberries and Cream - A bottle of 2000 Vintage Graham’s Port makes a white chocolate pairing taste like blueberries and cream.
A truly great milk chocolate will appease even the most ardent dark chocolate lover. For instance, did you know the ethereal ganache on the inside of truffles is usually half cream and chocolate? The cream adds a little extra fat so you will find it working better with more wines than dark chocolate.
Recommended Wines: Moscatel de Setubal, Montilla-Moriles, PX Sherry, Creamy Sherry, Rasteau, Aged Vintage Port, Rutherglen Muscat.
Simulating Caramel - A well-aged Montilla-Morales like Bodegas Toro Albalá will make you think you just popped a caramel in your mouth.
Caramel adds sweet salinity to chocolate. Caramel chocolates are the perfect harmony of sweet, salty, fat and bitter. Pairing wine with caramel chocolate can either be congruent or complimentary.
Congruent Wine Pairing: PX Sherry, Vin Santo, Cream Sherry, 20 year Tawny Port, Moscatel de Setubal, Madeira, Amontillado Sherry.
Complimentary Wine Pairing: Moscato d’Asti, Demi-Sec Champagne (a sweet champagne), Brachetto d’Acqui, Asti-Spumante, Lambrusco (Dolce or Amabile).
~Chocolate Dipped Strawberries~
The ultimate sexy chocolate dessert, chocolate dipped strawberries, actually work very well with a sweet sparkling rosé such as Brachetto d’Acqui.
A true dark chocolate has a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, but the numbers get even higher than that. There are 99% dark chocolate bars out there. Dark chocolates typically don’t like to share ‘palate space’ with other bitter, non-sweet things like a high tannin Mourvedre.
Recommended Wines: Vin Santo, Port, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Banyuls, Maury and believe it or not: Chinato.
~Peanut Butter Cups~
Yep. Peanut butter cups are serious business. With all nutty chocolates, such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, look for a wine that accentuates the nutty flavors. Amontillado Sherry with a Reeses is unforgettable.
Recommended Wines: Amontillado Sherry, Oloroso Sherry and Madeira.