Wine and chocolate—what could be better? If you bought more Valentine’s day chocolate than you know what to do with, try chocolate and wine pairing. With Wines ‘Til Sold Out’s wine home delivery, you won’t even have to leave your house and face the cold. That said, if you’re not sure what wine goes well with your chocolate, don’t worry—we’ll break down which wines go best with each variety of chocolate and why these pairings will ignite your taste buds.
Why Wine & Chocolate Mesh Well
Wine and chocolate are quite similar to each other, which is part of the reason why they pair so well together. However, it can be difficult to find the perfect pairing. Although they’re considered aphrodisiacs, chocolate and wine do contain different types of polyphenols—the groups of chemical compounds that make these items good for you (in moderation, of course).
Polyphenols come from plant-based foods and are full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other health benefits. Some of these include improved digestion issues, weight management, and help in treating cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Flavonoids are the most prominent polyphenol in chocolate, while tannin is the polyphenol in wine—both of these compounds are what lead to the bitter taste in these items.
Tannin is also one of the things that can make wine taste dry—the grape skins in red wine are not only bitter but astringent. What all of this scientific talk means is that the drier the wine and the more bitter the chocolate, the less happy your taste buds will be. Too much bitter (too many polyphenols) makes for bad chocolate and wine pairing. That said, the time it takes to find the right pairing makes the mouthwatering sensation of a perfect pairing even more satisfying.
What-to-Know When Pairing Chocolate & Wine
As mentioned above, one of the most important things to remember about wine and chocolate pairing is to not double up on polyphenols. If you pair your favorite piece of dark chocolate with a big glass of a dry cabernet sauvignon, your taste buds will not be dancing with joy. Here are a few things you need to know about pairing the two delicacies.
One of the simpler ways to go about wine and chocolate pairing is staying sweet across the board. Since wine and chocolate are similar and intense in their own right, one needs to bow to the other in some way. At first, let the wine be the sweeter of the two. Port, Madeira, Sherry, or even Banyuls (a wine made from Grenache grapes in southern France) are all great “sweeter” options that will mesh well with most chocolate.
A more complicated part of the chocolate and wine pairing process is the idea of matching intensities. This initiative will work in your favor if you’re not the biggest fan of sweet wines. Essentially, matching intensities means you pair light with light and strong with full. An example of this is pairing a nice milk chocolate truffle with a light-bodied wine such as a Pinot Noir or a Merlot.
When it comes to dark chocolate that contains quite a bit of cacao, pair that with a full-bodied wine such as Zinfandel or a Syrah. If you don’t mind a more bitter taste, you could try to pair a Cabernet Sauvignon with a dark chocolate treat. After all, tastes vary—what is cringy to one may be euphoric for another.
Think of Ingredients
If your chocolate has additional yummy ingredients such as nuts, toffee, caramel, fruit, etc., you’ll want to match those ingredients with the different notes in the wine. If you’re eating a nice nut-filled piece of milk chocolate, pair it with a nutty Sherry or a Tawny Port. If you have some scrumptious chocolate covered strawberries, these pair deliciously with a sweet sparkling red such as a Lambrusco or a Brachetto D’Acqui. Most wine bottles have a description outlining the different notes you’ll find within the wine; look this over to ensure that you pair it with the right chocolate.
Taste on a Spectrum
Similar to a formal wine tasting, you’ll want to taste from either light to dark chocolate, or light-bodied to full-bodied. Starting with white chocolate and a light-bodied wine will keep you from over-working your palate. White chocolate is going to be less nuanced than a bitter dark chocolate, so this way you won’t miss out on sweet subtleties.
Wine Recommendations for White Chocolate
Although technically not “true chocolate” since there is no cacao, the delicacy and sweetness of this type of chocolate pairs well with light-bodied wines and dry reds.
- Rosé Port
- Moscato D’Asti
- Ice Wine (This is a type of dessert wine made in cold climates. Left to freeze on the vines, you can find these grapes in late-harvest Rieslings and Vidal Blanc)
Wine Recommendations for Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate should be comprised of a half cacao, half cream blend. Milk chocolate is going to be one of the easiest to pair with wine because of this balance.
- Brachetto D’Acqui
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah or Sirah
Wine Recommendations for Dark Chocolate
When there is a high cacao content in the chocolate, your wine should be fuller-bodied. The robust aromas and intense flavors of these full-bodied wines will complement the bitter taste of the chocolate.
- Tawny Port
No matter what chocolate you choose—white, milk, or dark—there is a myriad of wine choices to choose from to make your taste buds tingle. It may take a few tries, but once you achieve the perfect mesh, you’ll have created a match made in heaven.
If you’re looking to have a chocolate and wine pairing party, think about utilizing our fabulous wine home delivery with our Featured Tastings—we can send you everything you need to create pairings with your chocolates. Make your taste buds happy with a satisfying pair of chocolate and wine.