Some may believe that this article should belong under our Food and Wine section, but we are looking at the elements that make up a wine and how they influence pairing with chocolate. Now the truth is, I’m not so sure about pairing chocolate with wines other than dessert or fortified wines, those pairing especially well with chocolate truffles, but it’s Valentines and I don’t want to be a stick-in-the-mud. Let’s take a look at pairing wines with chocolate.
Anatomy of Chocolate
High quality dark chocolate is made up basically of cocoa solids set in cocoa butter, natural butter extracted from cocoa beans. White chocolate is essentially milk solids set in cocoa butter, but contains no cocoa. The higher the content of cocoa butter the higher the quality of the chocolate in both cases. Cheaper chocolates have a waxiness from the lack of cocoa butter (it melts easily at body temperature), the reason is that vegetable fat used as a substitute. This is important when paring wines with chocolate. There will be characteristics in the wines that influence how we taste the chocolate. The tannin, acidity and residual sugar content of the wine will all influence which chocolate should be select for the special day!
I personally recommend pairing chocolate with dessert wines, it is the easiest option in my opinion and always delicious. Dessert wines have a high residual sugar that contrasts deliciously in comparison to bitter chocolate and pairs well with chocolates with higher sugar content, such as a standard milk chocolate. They also have the acidity to cut through the waxiness of mainstream chocolate with vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter.
White oaky wines
Wines such as creamy Chardonnays go well with milk chocolate. The creaminess goes well with the creaminess of the Chardonnay - usually examples like these have had a secondary fermentation. The oaky tones almost make the chocolate taste smoked. Think of the Claime d'Or Chardonnay 2012.
Big bold red wines
Pair dark bitter chocolate with higher cocoa with red wines that exhibit red fruit flavours on the palate and have higher tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinotage. Less bitter chocolate should be paired with a wine with lower tannins. Try the Boucheron Pinotage 2013.
Sparkling wines are notorious for being hard to pair with chocolate. However, on Valentine’s day they are often bought together. So here goes: Choose a wine that has red fruits such as strawberries and a mousse (bubbles) that tastes creamy, think strawberries and cream. A great choice is Moreson Pink! Drink this with white chocolate.
Now that you are a chocolate and wine pairing expert, show that special person in your life how much you care and pull out the correct chocolates to have with the wines mentioned above. We are offering a mixed case of just 4 wines with a slab of white, milk and dark chocolate, to experiment with, click here for more info.