Wine and Chocolate Pairing

300-chocolate120-chocolateBy Amy Gross – 

Although some might disagree with me, I absolutely love wine and chocolate together. I just love playing with all of the combinations to see what flavors work the best for me. Sure, sometimes I find a few that definitely do not work, but then I come across those pairings that sing and all is well again. And, who can complain when you just “have to” open a few different bottles of wine and gather a few different types of chocolate together for science? Or artistry? Or whatever?

Now, I do realize that not everyone has the patience that I do to keep trying different combinations of wines and chocolates. Sometimes you just want to go with what you know will be good, especially when you are trying to impress someone on a Valentine’s Day date, even if that someone you want to impress is already your spouse. You gotta keep the sparks going, right?

So, for those of you who want a better chance of success without all of the experimentation, I’ve got a few guidelines for you.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing Guidelines

When you want a go-to guide for wine and chocolate pairing, here’s what you really need to know:

In general, your wine should be at least a touch sweeter than your chocolate. 

This is also the case for other desserts as well, and it explains why wedding cake never complements the dry sparkling wine it is most often served with at weddings. What a shame for both the bubbles and the cake! But I digress.  When matching chocolate and wine, the darker, more bitter chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao typically goes with the more tannic and bolder wines.

Following that rule, here are a few successful pairings:

• Milk chocolate with sweet Riesling or dessert wines

• Dark chocolate with Merlot or Petit Syrah

• Dark semisweet chocolate with  Merlot or Pinot Noir

• Dark bittersweet chocolate with Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel

Now that you know the rules, I would like to encourage you to give them a try and play around with them a bit. Keep in mind that you may not feel that every Merlot or Petit Syrah will go with dark chocolate. So, to explore, you might consider opening several Merlots with one or two dark chocolate options and trying all of the combinations. Or, you might want to gather several chocolate options and two wine options each of two varieties.  For example, two bottles each of Merlot and Petit Syrah.

Wine is meant to be explored, and just like you and I may not agree on our favorite wines, we might also not agree on our favorite wine and chocolate pairings. I think the best way to find out what you like is to give a few combinations a try. And, I can almost guarantee doing this on a date night or even with a group of friends can be a lot of fun. Open up a few different bottles of red wine, pull out some different chocolates and see what you like best.

Here’s to a happy Valentine’s Day with lots of wine and chocolate. Cheers!