Wine and chocolate are two of a taste bud’s greatest pleasures, but pairing them can be challenging. The nuances and flavors in the many many kinds of wines are numerous to say the least. The richness, sweetness, and creaminess of chocolate with other flavors combined are just too numerous to count. Pairing the wrong wine with the incorrect chocolate could ruin your experience with both. With February 14th coming up fast, we wanted to share some romantic and tasty Valentine ideas for our two favorite treats!
A successful chocolate and wine pairing is vivid. It should produce enhanced sensations and tastes across the palate and reveal hidden flavors in both the wine and the chocolate. Generally, pairing white wines with a lighter chocolate, such as white or milk chocolate, can create beautifully complimentary flavor profiles. Overall, your red wine pairs best with darker chocolates.
The best way to pair wine and chocolate successfully is to first identify which flavor profile of the wine you are looking to exploit. Once you choose your wine, you can pick a specific chocolate that can be used to manipulate the tasting notes of it. For example, Sauvignon Blanc has a distinctive, crisp finish. By pairing it with creamy white chocolate, the finish will become more persistent and silky. For example, pair Coconut Lime truffle with your favorite Sauvignon Blanc and the wine will elevate those citrus notes to a tasty peak.
If you’re a red wine fan, try pairing a Merlot with a dark chocolate with dark fruit accents. Chocolates with tastes of plum and blueberry just take the wine to the next level. Port and Madeira with their caramel and nutty tones are a sensational pair with chocolates that have the same elements. 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. The shorter finish and softer tannins create a silky feel in your mouth.
A VERY IMPORTANT thing to note is that your wine should always be just as sweet as the chocolate you pair it with or you’ll risk the wine tasting sour and/or flat. Here are some basic rules of thumb:
OK so now let’s talk chocolate!
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.
The Chocolate Cake Effect I’ve served several diners who were drinking a Shiraz with chocolate cake. They loved it. It’s possible that the addition of starches and fat to a chocolate cake may work with more dry-style red wines.
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 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 that will dominate you.
Recommended Wines Vin Santo, Port, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Banyuls, Maury and Chinato
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.
Amontillado Sherry, Oloroso Sherry and Madeira
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