There are several times of the year that instantly mean chocolate to us: Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day and obviously, Easter! But doesn’t chocolate kill wine, you may ask? Wine educator Jennifer Franich gives us her top tips for matching wine with chocolate…
There are few things in the world as enjoyable as a good glass of wine, and chocolate is one of them, so imagine if we could expertly match your glass of wine with your favourite chocolate! Sublime, heavenly….but also, tricky to do. There are certain principles with regard to food and wine pairing which, when followed, can ensure the best experience possible. Food and wine pairing is all about matching; matching the key structural elements like acidity, body, sweetness and tannin.
Bittersweet chocolate and wine pairing notes
The bitter elements in chocolate, as well as the sweetness, can make it difficult to pair with wine. The bitterness of darker chocolate can enhance the texture of tannin, thus making an otherwise delicious wine seem overly dry and austere. To combat this issue, keep in mind to match a fuller-flavoured, dark chocolate with higher cocoa solids (and less cocoa butter, or fats) with a wine which can stand up in terms of flavour, but has lower tannin. Shiraz a.k.a Syrah is the grape that generally does this the best!
Going the other way, a sweeter, creamier chocolate (or white chocolate, even) will reduce the impression of fruitiness in wine and can make it seem metallic. Chocolate tends to lack salt, yet it’s the salt that can make other foods so amenable to wine pairing, helping to enhance the fruitiness, sweetness and acidity in a wine. If you have a white or a very sweet milk chocolate, find something as sweet or sweeter than it, like a sparkling Moscato d’Asti (a great match with white chocolate) or a fruity, fortified red such as ruby port, which is incredibly forgiving with milk chocolate.
Starting with flavoured chocolate for your wine match
Another way to go, and one that can be truly exciting, is matching flavours added to chocolates with a wine with similar notes. Here are some of my personal favourite wine and chocolate matches:
- Lemon or Lime-infused chocolate with Riesling from Alsace, Germany or Austria.
- Turkish Delight or chocolate covered ginger with the rose petal and gingery notes of a Gewurztraminer from Alsace.
- Nutty, rich single origin dark chocolate with a rich Madeira or, figgy Pedro Ximenez.
- Sesame or sea-salt blended chocolate with a demi-sec Champagne.
- Dark cherry chocolate with pinot noir.
- After dinner mints with a punchy, minty Cabernet Sauvignon, especially from Coonawarra Australia.
- Fruit and nut with Ruby Port.
Cocoa and wine both contain high quantities of antioxidants: the feel-good chemicals that boost our mood and our health. Also, cocoa also contains theobromine – a natural stimulant similar to caffeine, which can boost concentration, energy and enhance your memory!
Matching chocolate to wine may be harder work than other foods butthe hard work and dedication are worth it when you discover your own chocolate and wine match made in heaven. Want to experience this for yourself? Why not try a wine and chocolate walking tour in Santa Barbara, California?