Pairing Wine and Chocolate

Wine with chocolate? You bet! If you have the right wine to complement the right chocolate it can be a match made in heaven! Whether you are pairing a delicate white chocolate or a lively dark chocolate with wine, there are a few pairing tips to keep in mind.

Tips for Successfully Pairing Wine with Chocolate

  • Generally, the wine should be at least as sweet, if not a touch sweeter, than the chocolate you are serving it with. Otherwise, the taste may quickly veer towards bitter or sour.

  • When pairing wines with chocolate, your best bet is to match lighter, more elegant-flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines; likewise, the stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied the wine should be. For example, a bittersweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense, in-your-face California Zinfandel.
  • Similar to “formal” wine tasting, if you will be experimenting with several varities of chocolates, work from light to dark. Start with a more subtle white chocolate and end on a dark or bittersweet chocolate.

White Chocolate Wine Suggestions

White chocolate tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry, a Moscato d’Asti, or an Orange Muscat. The Sherry and Moscato d’Asti will pick up the creaminess of the chocolates and the Orange Muscat will pick up any fruit tones on the scene.

Another route for pairing wine with white chocolate is to go for the contrast pairing approach. It’s a little riskier, but when you find a match it can be exceptional. For example, try a wine like Zinfandel, which tends to have a heavier tannic content and often a higher alcohol level, and partner it with a creamy, buttered white chocolate. The tannins tend to get softened out by the fat content, thus making a remarkable potential for pairing.

Milk Chocolate Wine Suggestions

Pinot Noir or a lighter-bodied Merlot will complement a bar of milk chocolate, a creamy chocolate mousse, or chocolate accented cheesecake.

RieslingsMuscats, or dessert wines tend to hold up well to mild milk chocolates. Also consider a sparkling wine or Champagne for pairing with milk chocolate dipped strawberries.

Last, but not least, a classic milk chocolate pairing to consider is a nice Ruby Port– a very safe bet when looking for a perfect wine to accent milk chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Wine Suggestions

Dark or bittersweet chocolates need a wine that offers a roasted, slightly robust flavor itself, with perhaps a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabs and Zinfandelshave a history of perfecting the dark chocolate match, resulting in an unparalleled tasting combination.

Also consider a Pinot Noir or a Merlot to handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Finally, give a Tawny or Vintage Port a go to offer a very well balanced pairing approach to a dark chocolate dessert of truffle.


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