Pairing Chocolate and Wine: How to Pair Wine with Chocolate
Chocolate and wine pairings can be a divine experience for your senses – a match made in heaven that you truly need to experience if you haven’t already!
As with food and wine matching in general, we don’t think you should get too hung up or confused about it. However when drinking wine with food, you will have found that at times sublime sensory moments happen, don’t they?
You hit on a perfect match between what you are eating and what you are drinking. The more you can orchestrate that happening the more you’ll enjoy yourself!
Chocolate and Wine Pairings – to be or not to be?
It’s one of those tricky and much-discussed combinations, the only sure-fire answer is that if a pairing works for you, then that pairing is a success.
With a colossal abundance of flavours and types of chocolate now available (geranium, pistachio or banana anyone?), then if you enjoy experimenting and aren’t afraid to try something new, you can have fun!
Well, I never knew that…
Did you know chocolate and wine are made in the same way? (including a fermentation, the same yeasts). Did you also know cocoa trees grow some 12-15 metres high, and produce just 20-30 cocoa pods (like small yellow rugby balls), with each tree producing just a few bars of chocolate?!
Understanding how cocoa beans are turned into chocolate and how some chocolates are made sweet or intensely bitter can help you understand why certain chocolate and wine pairings generally work and others don’t. And hey, both can even good for you!
Where to start? Here’s some basic advice about pairing chocolate and wine
Pairing chocolate and wine can be tricky, largely because the products can have so much in common – the tannins in each one fighting on your palate. A sweet chocolate for example makes very dry wines bitter and thin, masking delicate fruity flavours.
Lighter chocolate in terms of how intense the flavour is, should be matched with lighter wines (e.g. a Pinot Noir, Merlot), and the more intense chocolates with bigger wines like Malbec, Zinfandel or fortified wines. More often than not we are talking red rather than white wine.
Generally, you want your wine to be sweeter than your chocolate. Match the right chocolate with the right wine – white, red, sparkling, fortified, sweet – and chocolate can really accentuate or even introduce new flavours.
Without further ‘chocolate’ ado, here are a few specific ideas from our wine and drinks selection. Naturally, we are bound to recommend going for good quality and preferably organic chocolate too.
A Wine and Chocolate Mixed Case
Before going any further, we should tell you about our Wine & Chocolate Mixed Case. This wine and chocolate case has five organic drinks, three organic wines and two chocolate stouts, along with two bars of Cocoa Loco’s tasty organic and fair trade chocolate! Whether for a gift or to discover the flavours of wine and chocolate pairings, this mixed case contains delicious organic goodness from bean to bottle.
Pairing wine with white chocolate – pairing white chocolate with wine
Remember that white chocolate contains no cocoa powder at all, it’s made just from cocoa butter and sugar. It’s quite a sweet type of chocolate, so you want to pair white chocolate with a wine that’s also sweet. Sweeter Rieslings can work, as well as dessert wines. Here’s a sweeter Kabinett Rieslings and two dessert wines that would match white chocolates perfectly.
This low-alcohol (8.5%), sweeter Kabinett Riesling from Timo Dienhart from the famous Mosel valley is one of the sweetest organic wines we have available.
Stellar Organics Heaven on Earth Sweet Muscat would also be a good choice for white chocolate.
Lastly, from the great sweet wine region of the world, Château Dudon’s Sauternes is a top choice for white chocolate too!
Note: these two dessert wines would pair well with chocolate cake too – and many other desserts as well!
Pairing wine with milk chocolate – pairing milk chocolate with wine
The sweetness in milk chocolate can also range, but generally it’s between 35-55% cocoa content. If you have something with around 35% cocoa, it will likley be more sweet than a chocolate with 55%. Milk and lighter chocolates should be matched with lighter wines, like a Pinot Noir or a lighter Merlot. Sweeter and more aromatic whites (Rieslings, Gerwurztraminer) can also be a good choice for milk chocolate.
Here are three organic wines and a Pineau we’d recommend for milk chocoalate.
André Stentz’s Alsace Gewurztraminer is our sweetest Gewurztraminer and would work well alongside most milk chocolates.
Next is Domaines Paul Mas’ Cuvée Secrete Pinot Noir, a great value Pinot Noir from southern France.
For another choice for milk – or even darker chocolate – is Adobe’s Merlot Reserva from the Rapel Valley.
Finally, for a more luxurious choice, consider this moreish and special AOC Pineau des Charentes from Guy Pinard.
Pairing wine with dark chocolate – pairing dark chocolate with wine
Dark chocolate is less sweet than milk chocolate and quite a popular type of chocolate today. It has a higher cocoa content, which can go up to even 90%! For dark chocolates, you’ll want to choose a bigger wine, like a Zinfandel or Malbec, or even a fortified wine.
Here are four organic wines that would pair well with dark chocolate.
With a beguiling combination of cassis, coffee and chocolate flavours, you really can’t go wrong with Domaine Bousquet’s Fortified Malbec for dark chocolate.
Another wine with chocolatey flavours that would suit dark chocolate is Cantina Orsogna Elementa Primitivo (Primitivo is the same varietal as Zinfandel).
With a moreish sweet edge and made using the ‘Appassimento’ method, Mirasoles Appassimento Monastrell would also go with richer chocolates.
Lastly, Port is often recommended for dark chocolate pairings, and this Casal Jordoes Finest Reserve Port is an excellent organic option.
Just give me a beer! A special Chocolate Stout
OK, and if you prefer not to juggle food and drink, why not select the perfect ‘all in one’ solution. A perfect marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate.
Two splendid organic liqueurs for chocolate
These two organic liqueurs would also go well with chocolate too. We’d recommend the Amaretto for sweeter chocolates (white or milk) and the Coffee Liqueur for dark chocolate … perhaps alongside a nice cup of coffee/espresso or espresso martini!
Wine pairings for other types of chocolates
- For caramel chocolates: try a bottle of Casal Jordoes’ Fine Tawny Port
- For orange-flavoured chocolate: go for Emiliana Organic’s Adobe Gewurztraminer Reserva
- For white or milk chocolate with stronger vanilla content or milk chocolate with nuts: go for Domaine Bousquet’s Reserve Chardonnay, the oaky vanilla edge in the Chardonnay will complement and match the flavours in the chocolate.
- Chocolate cake/brownies: it depends how sweet and chocolatey the cake or brownies are – but the wine should be sweeter, so for a milk chocolate cake choose something sweeter, like the options listed above for milk or white chocolate, for a richer darker chocolate cake or brownies Domaine Bousquet’s Fortified Malbec or Mirasoles Appassimento Monastrell are both excellent choices
- For salted chocolate: salt is said to amp up the flavours, we’d recommend Domaines Paul Mas’ Cuvée Secrete Pinot Noir or our Wild Thing Merlot
Know what to do? How to taste chocolate and wine together
How do you taste? Take your time, as this is a 5 sensory experience. First unwrap your chocolate, sniff, inhale and identify its aromas. It should be room temperature.
Then break off a piece, put this into your mouth and allow it to melt on your tongue (don’t devour, tempting though it might be), noting the flavours and whether the chocolate tastes bitter or sweet, before swallowing.
Next take your wine, looking for appearance and aromas, taking a mouthful, noting the dryness or sweetness, fruitiness, acidity and weight.
Now put another piece of chocolate in your mouth, and as it melts, whilst the chocolate still coats your tongue, take a sip of wine, and think about how this combination is crafting itself before you. Does it work, or not? Take notes if you like!
Rocket science it ain’t, and we hope you will enjoy some experimenting. Why not let us know some of your successes, or even epic failures?!
Ultimately remember that as above, guidelines are just guidelines, nothing more, and whatever tastes good for you has got to be a win.
A Wine and Chocolate Mixed Case
If you enjoyed reading about wine and chocolate pairings, then you’ll likely enjoy our Wine & Chocolate Mixed Case. It has five organic drinks, three organic wines and two chocolate stouts, along with two bars of Cocoa Loco’s tasty organic and fair trade chocolate that pair wonderfully together.