Pairing Wines w/ Chocolate
Rule #1, 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
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 (try
Manuel de Argueso Pedro Ximinez $18), a Moscato
d'Asti (try 2002 Marcarini Moscato d'Asti
at $15), from Italy’s Piedmont region offers
a hint of carbonation, or an Orange Muscat (such
as Quady Winery’s 2002 Orange Muscat for $17).
The Sherry and Moscato d’Asti will pick up
the creaminess of the chocolates and the Orange Muscat
will pick up any fruit tones present.
Milk Chocolate Wine Suggestions Pinot
Noir (Beaulieu Pinot Noir Coastal 2003 $7) or
a lighter-bodied Merlot (Try
Hogue or Columbia Crest) will complement a bar of milk
chocolate, a creamy chocolate mousse or chocolate
accented cheesecake. Rieslings, Muscats (try
Bonny Doon's Muscat Vin de Glaciere 2004 for $15) or dessert
wines tend to hold up well to mild milk chocolates.
Dark Chocolate Wine Suggestions Dark or bittersweet
chocolates need a wine that offers a roasted, slightly
bitter flavor itself, with perhaps a hint of its own
chocolate notes. Cabs and Zinfandels have a history
of perfecting the dark chocolate match, resulting in
an unparalleled tasting combination. A Cabernet
Sauvignon or a Zinfandel (try
Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2002 Zinfandel at
$11) will more than fill your chocolate pairing expectations.
Tips for Throwing aa Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party
4-8 friends (interaction should be easy, so a small
to medium-sized group is best).
each guest or couple to bring a bottle of wine.
To ensure that each guest brings a different variety,
feel free to offer recommendations.
party can be organized around a specific grouping
of wines, such as red, white or sparkling, or a
specific country, or even a wine region, like German
the wine tasting in the early evening. (Make sure
the tasting takes place one or two hours after
dinner so taste buds are rested!)
a relaxing atmosphere with background music and
guests with chocolate desserts to enjoy after the
Preparing for the Party
To prepare for the party, select
six different chocolates. Make sure to have plenty
of unsalted saltine crackers and water on hand to cleanse
the palate between each sample.
the palate by eating an unsalted cracker and taking
several sips of water. Repeat this process after
the tasting with mild flavors, such as white or milk
chocolate and white wines, and finish with the stronger flavors, like dark
and bittersweet chocolate and robust red wines.
off a small piece of chocolate. Look at the color
and smell the aroma. Enhance the aroma by rubbing the chocolate between two
fingers until it softens and starts to melt. Take tiny sniffs.
a bite of the chocolate. Chew it several times and
let it slowly melt on the tongue. Note how it feels. Is it smooth, velvety,
creamy, soft or gritty? It should not be waxy or hard to melt. Savor the chocolate-roll
it around on the tongue to taste the many flavors. (The tip of the tongue senses
sweetness, the front sides sense sour flavors, the back sides of the tongue
taste salty flavors, and the very back of the tongue detects bitter notes.)
1/3 glass of wine. Swirl the wine in the glass and
smell it in short sniffs. Take a sip and swish it gently around the mouth so
it mingles with the chocolate. Note how the chocolate flavors have changed.
Are some flavors more prominent than others?
desired, each guest can fill out an evaluation form
to capture the different flavors. Then discuss the
different chocolate-wine combinations and preferences
as a group.
Dark Chocolate A
full bodied Zinfandel is another wonderful complement
to Chocolate, especially dark Chocolate. Zinfandel
and Cabernet Sauvignon are made with more concentrated,
dipped in sweet chocolate are always a hit and usually
they are served with a white zinfandel. This wine usually
has a hint of a strawberry taste, so the three are
are often filled with Winter and Summer Cabernets,
Merlot, Champagne, Port and Chardonnay, so it follows
that these wines will complement your chocolates.
is fast becoming an item to pair with beer. A very
dark beer, such as Grant's Imperial Stout, will be
a winner if paired with your favorite chocolate dessert.
some Madeira, my Dear?"… a perfectly charming
selection. Liquors with a wine base that are aged in
large barrels, like Congnac or Armagnac, have amber
colors, the aromas of oak, leather and dried flowers.
And these aromas find total expression with a chocolate
of high cocoa solids.
an often forgotten classic wine, partners well with
chocolate. The process of making Marsala includes slowly
simmering, unlike most other wines. Both chocolate
and Marsala have 'empyreumatic' aromas and flavors… the
result of heating and roasting.
Milk Chocolate Try
a creamy chocolate cheesecake with a soft Merlot.
Noir, a red wine that is lighter than Merlot works
so well with chocolate mousse.
natural wines with flavors of dried fruits, spices,
and oak compliment milk and white chocolate … the
marriage between the two will be tender, bold.
Rieslings, Sauternes, Italian yin santo, and semi sweet
white sparkling wines with chocolate, especially Moscato
d'Asti which has just a prickle of carbonation.
Bittersweet Chocolate Rich
Bittersweet Chocolate with an equally rich Cabernet
Sauvignon is an outstanding tasting experience. Both
have a slight bitterness, a roasted flavor, and an
earthy quality. The Chocolate helps take away some
of the astringency and the dryness of the wine. Try
melding the two to make an extraordinary sauce to
add to desserts.
desserts which have a hint of bitterness can readily
be enjoyed with young red wines, wines of the Loire,
the Beaujolais and the Bordelais.
a warm bittersweet chocolate cake with orange-muscat
and serve it with raspberries and port ice cream. Using
both muscat and port together is exotic and your dessert
will be unforgettable.
White Chocolate Some
fortified orange muscat wines made in California are
intensely flavored and will go well with any kind of
White Moose White Chocolate Brew is a great example
of the myriad of recent innovations in the microbrew
revolution. It’s clearly in full swing! Many
new fruit microbrews, compare to a port or a dessert
wine, and will pair well with desserts…. Pyramid
Apricot Ale and Belgian Lambic are two examples.
chocolate is often combined with fruit and berries.
In general semi-dry white wines with a burnt aroma
and a little sweetness will complement milk or white
grape variety Pedro Ximenez is dried in the sun and
mashed into a paste. Cream Sherry made with these grapes
sweet and thick.