How to pair chocolate with wine
Complex, rich, delicious, good wine and good chocolate have a lot in common. From the fact that vintage, year and climate affect both grapes and beans to the fact that both should be savored slowly to get their full effect, the two are more similar than many realize.
However, what makes both chocolate and wine great is when they are enjoyed together. If done right, the deep, rich creaminess of the chocolate blends perfectly with the earthiness and slight sweetness of many wines. Of course, if done poorly, you end up with a wine/chocolate pair that cancels each other out, or worse, makes each other taste terrible.
To avoid this fate, here are several tips for pairing wine and chocolate. Consider each carefully, then get on with the fun part -- experimentation. Yep, you've got a lot of chocolate to eat and wine to drink ahead of you! Sounds rough, right?
How to pair chocolate and wine
Use good product
At some level, this should be obvious. If you are creating a culinary sensation, having better product will only enhance the effect. However, it bears noting here because much has been written about how across the same type of wine or grape, there can be great differences in flavor. Less, though, has been written about how the same is true of chocolate.
Therefore, when going to the effort of pairing wine and chocolate, you should seek out better quality chocolate. Not only will it taste better by itself, the effect is multiplicative when pairing with good wine.
When it doubt, keep the chocolate simple
There is, of course, a danger when buying better quality chocolate because its overall flavor will combine different hints and subtle notes. There are more factors to which one must pay attention. For instance, if you get a chocolate with citrus and fruit notes, you'll need to make sure that you get a wine that also pairs with citrus and fruit notes.
If you are not yet confident in your abilities to make this pair, buy a better red wine and feel free to stay with a more straightforward chocolate -- hey, chocolate is chocolate. It's all good! You can go for more complex pairings down the road.
Pair chocolate with red wine
For a number of reasons, red wine often says romance better than white and for this reason alone, it makes sense to pair chocolate with red wine. However, it can be incredibly challenging to pair a white with anything rich, including chocolate. It's not impossible, but usually the acidity of whites just won't work well with deeper chocolate.
Therefore, if you are not sure what to pair and have to be sure your pairing is perfect, stick with a medium red wine that is just slightly sweet. This should match very well with the body and slight sweetness of chocolate.
Avoid oaky wines
Oaky wines are great to drink and pair with a lot of very bold flavors, but not chocolate. The deep notes of oaky red wine, especially if the oak imparts a smokiness, will completely cover any subtle hints in the chocolate and might overwhelm its flavor entirely.
Avoid overly sweet wines
On the other hand, you don't want to buy a red wine that is too sweet because the wine can overpower the chocolate. The best result is when the chocolate provides the sweetness and the wine fills out the flavor with earthiness and a deep body that no chocolate could provide. The exception to this is fortified wines which are often sweet, but bring additional flavors which work with the chocolate and help offset the sweetness.
And now it comes time to experiment. Find wines you like to drink, chocolates you like to eat and see how well they do with each other!