Is there an art to pairing wine and chocolate? Absolutely.
Wine and chocolate pairings are not just random acts – at least not for wine and chocolate connoisseurs. Of course everyone is encouraged to have fun and experiment with different pairings, but there are some dos and don’ts that have been declared by wine and chocolate experts.
The article below from allchocolat.com discusses the dos of wine and chocolate pairings, but what about the don’ts? Serious lovers of wine and chocolate pairings will scream loudly, “Do not combine red wine and chocolate!” Due to the lack of sugar in red wines, sweetened chocolate and red wine together will leave a sour, bitter taste in your mouth. However, dark chocolates, because they are not very sweet, may be paired with wines that are also not very sweet, some being on the redder side.
To learn some tried and true wine and chocolate pairings, and what to look for when experimenting with your own wine and chocolate pairings, please read on.
Wine and chocolate pairings
Matching flavor nuances
Wine and chocolate paired together? They’re natural companions. Both have complex flavors and notes, both have similar components and nuances in common. A wine and chocolate pairing follows the same kind of process as a wine or chocolate tasting, except you taste both together.
How to Team up the Pair
Examine the attributes of the chocolate, and follow the same steps as you would in a classic chocolate tasting. That includes noting the aroma, listening for the snap when you break it and checking the shine and glossiness. Before tasting it, though, take the same notice of the wine.
Swirl the wine in the glass: be aware of the color and the viscosity.
Sniff the wine and note the bouquet and flavor components.
Sip the wine; let it fill your mouth. Notice the wine’s complexity, which flavors come to mind. Now take a small bite of the chocolate, let it sit on your tongue. When it just begins to melt, sip the wine again and swirl together with the chocolate.
Flavors to Expect
Just like in a chocolate or wine tasting, the flavors are released in stages. The first notes should be filled with fruity acidity (from the grapes in the wine, and the cacao beans in the chocolate). Watch the flavors that unfold in this middle stage, and look for a sweetness phase. The finish should be identified by tannins, flavor notes common to both wine and chocolate.
Many of the same flavor notes you experienced in your chocolate tasting will emerge during the pairings. You’ll observe fruity, nutty, spicy and/or woody notes. You may even detect roasted flavors specifically identifiable with chocolate.
What to Pair
Pair lighter chocolates with lighter wines; darker chocolates with full-bodied wines. Go from light to dark in your tasting session, starting with milk or lower percentage cacao chocolates and their corresponding wines.
Pairings for Dark, Bittersweet and Semisweet Chocolate
- Tawny Port
If you’re looking to pair up Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, or Sangiovese reds, they need to be well-aged to suitably pair with darker chocolates.
Pairings for Milk Chocolate
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Dessert wines
Pairing chocolate with fruit is a natural. Some experts prefer chocolate and beer combinations to chocolate and wine. In Europe, bread and chocolate are common companions. Chocolate and coffee are meant to be together, while chocolate and tea are an unlikely match that some experts swear by.
And let’s not forget white chocolate in this whole wine and chocolate adventure. While white chocolate is not considered a true chocolate – because it is made without cacao – it is still a fine choice for wine and chocolate pairings. The idea is to pair sweeter white wines with the sweetness of white chocolates.
Some pairings for white chocolate include Riesling, Moscato, and Muscat. And believe it or not, even though this does not technically fall under the wine and chocolate pairing category, white chocolate pairs well with sweeter champagnes.
To try some of the above wine and chocolate pairings, visit Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts. We have an incredibly large selection of wines along with gourmet chocolates from Belgium and truffles from Billerica. Or experiment with your own wine and chocolate pairings. Who knows… maybe you’ll discover the next ultimate wine and chocolate pairing! If you’re unsure of where to start, stop by our Angel Share Tasting Room. Forty wines are on tap at all times for you to “try before you buy.”
Are there any specific wine and chocolate pairings that you’ve come to love? Are you more of a wine and cheese person? Are you looking forward to trying some of the combinations above? We’d love to hear about it!