There are many types of food that pair well with wine but one that excites many people is chocolate. While chocolate and wine have several similarities, it can be somewhat challenging to pair the two together.
Just like wine, there are several different types of chocolate – which means that just because one type of chocolate works with one variety of wine, doesn’t mean it will work with another. For example, if you have a glass of dry red wine, you wouldn’t necessarily want a big hunk of dark chocolate due to the flavors battling against each other on your tastebuds, according to Wine Folly.
We asked Jody Hayden, the owner of Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in Empire, if there is a specific type of chocolate she leans more toward when pairing wine and chocolate. She replied, “every pairing has different attributes and you really have to let the wines and chocolate guide the result.”
The favorable flavor notes or aromatics of both the wine and chocolate should be elevated and accentuated when pairing them together. Hayden explains that an exceptional pairing is when the elevation happens multiple times within one pairing. She describes a great wine and chocolate pairing as being a “dance in which both partners are completely in sync through the entire experience.”
Experts say milk chocolate is one of the easiest “true” chocolates to pair with wine. This is due to its consistency being half chocolate and half cream.
Some recommended wines that pair well with milk chocolate are:
- Late-Harvest Red Wines: Port style wines including late-harvest Syrah, Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.
- Ruby Port: The original Port from Portugal makes for a more spiced and berry driven pairing with milk chocolate
Dark chocolate has what are called polyphenols. A similar property found in wine, polyphenols gives the chocolate the somewhat bitter taste you experience. This is what helps experts properly pair wine with dark chocolate so everything is balanced out.
If you’re looking for a wine to pair with a nice piece of dark chocolate, you may want to try:
- Port-style Red Wines: There are several single-varietal Port-style wines (coming from outside of Portugal) that have ample intensity to balance dark chocolate, including Zinfandel (with cayenne chocolate), Malbec (with ginger chocolate) and Petite Sirah (with coffee chocolate).
- Port: The original Port from Portugal often has touches of cinnamon spice to the taste profile and pairs marvelously with chocolates with high cacao percentages.
White chocolate doesn’t have any cacao in it and therefore isn’t considered a “true” chocolate. However, it is one of the few chocolate-like sweets that will match with a nice dry, red wine.
Try one of the recommended wines below the next time you have a craving for some white chocolate:
- Pinot Noir: A shockingly good pairing, especially for chocolate and wine pairing disbelievers. The white chocolate acts as the fat that delivers sweet flavors of red cherries, strawberries, and raspberries found in the Pinot Noir. If you’re looking for a great alternative, check out Schiava.
- Ice Wine: Depending on the varieties used to make the ice wine (usually Riesling and Vidal Blanc), you’ll discover notes of pineapple, lemon meringue, and creamy candied oranges.
- Rosé Port: This is the newest style of Port and offers rich flavors of sweet strawberries and currant. The minerality in this Port carries through, making it a sophisticated sweet match.
Chocolate comes in many different forms – hot chocolate, gelato, ice cream and truffles. If you’re looking to pair one of these forms with a wine – especially a delicious bowl of gelato, Hayden has a few suggestions. “Our fresh mint gelato or chocolate sorbet would pair beautifully with Aurora’s red offerings while our lemon sorbet or salted pistachio would be fun with most of [Aurora’s] dry whites or sparklings.”
When planning to pair wine with chocolate, there is one thing you always want to remember: choose wine and chocolate that you enjoy. Finding a pairing that works for you is a very personal thing, says Hayden. “There is no right or wrong to pairing since your palette has its own experiences, likes and dislikes.”
With all tastings, Hayden says it is best to first select the wine you’ll be enjoying.
Blaufränkisch paired with Chocolate Covered Cacao Beans. This pairing was a surprising one. Our 2018 Blaufränkisch has hints of blueberry with a spicy pepper finish that paired well with the silky smooth chocolate and roasted flavors of the cacao beans.
Grüner Veltliner paired with a Pear Ginger Dairy Truffle. The multi-award winning Grüner Veltliner has hidden aromatics of gooseberry and prickly pear. The ginger and pear present in the truffle help elevate the palate with the melon and pineapple flavors in the wine.
Leora paired with Honey Ginger Caramel. Our newest sparkling wine Leora, which is made from 100% Pinot Grigio, brings aromas of a lightly spiced apple tart. The pairing of the apple and lemon in the bubbly with the honey ginger in the confection keeps your taste buds wanting more.
It is also important to remember most of how we “taste” is through our olfactory sense. If your sense of smell is being impacted by something in the room or a cold, your pairing experience can be different.
“Create an atmosphere conducive to pairing,” advises Hayden. “If you’re in an uncomfortable environment or one with competing smells, these things can influence the pairing.”
Next time you are planning a party and want different kinds of food to pair with the wine, make sure to stop by Aurora Cellars and Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate to get all your chocolate and wine needs! Your guests won’t be disappointed!