Wine and chocolate. To some they are an integral part of a special Valentine’s Day. I know many people tend to view chocolate as one of the basic food groups (my wife certainly does) and Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect occasion to celebrate the pairing of wine and chocolate. Contrary to popular belief, wine and chocolate are a tough combination to match. Even the best-balanced wine will taste like vinegar if you drink it after eating a sweet piece of chocolate.
To help you avoid these and other blunders, we’ve provided a few wine and chocolate pairing rules to help you match your favorite chocolate with several carefully chosen wines. So the next time you’re asking — what chocolates go best with which wines? — well, you’ll at least be a bit better prepared.
To start, if you’ve read any of our other food and wine pairing posts, you have seen this tip before: don’t try and pair a wine to a food (in this case chocolate) that is sweeter than the wine. Admittedly, this can be a tough one when looking at a food as sweet as chocolate but there are some options:
- Pair any sweeter chocolate like milk or white chocolate with after dinner wines like Ports or Late Harvest Varietals with a significant percentage of residual sugar.
- Dark chocolate on the other hand goes well with heavy a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Verdot or Pinotage. Zinfandel can work but can be a bit risky. If you want to try it, make sure it is a sweeter one.
- Chocolates that include a significant amount of savory ingredients like peanuts or sea salt are easier to find a wine to compliment it. Follow the same rules as you would with Dark chocolate.
- Avoid lighter wines like Pinot Noir or Tempranillo. They will usually be overwhelmed by the very strong flavor of the chocolate.
- Chocolate that has a smaller percentage of cocoa butter will also be easier to match. Generally the darker the chocolate, the smaller the percentage of cocoa butter. White chocolate is mostly cocoa butter, which is a fat — not a problem by itself but then add the sweetness of the chocolate and it can be tough to pair with wine.
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