Wine and Chocolate LoveWine and chocolate. To some they are an integral part of a special Valentine’s Day.  I know many people tend to view chocolate as one of the basic food groups (my wife certainly does) and Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect occasion to celebrate the pairing of wine and chocolate.  Contrary to popular belief, wine and chocolate are a tough combination to match.  Even the best-balanced wine will taste like vinegar if you drink it after eating a sweet piece of chocolate.

To help you avoid these an other blunders, we’ve provided a few wine and chocolate pairing rules to help you match your favorite chocolate with several carefully chosen wines. So the next time you’re asking, “What chocolates go best with which wines?”, well, you’ll at least be a bit better prepared.

To start, if you’ve read any of our other food and wine pairing posts, you have seen this tip before: don’t try and pair a wine to a food (in this case chocolate) that is sweeter than the wine.  Admitted, this can be a tough one when looking at a food as sweet as chocolate but there are some options:

  • Pair any sweeter chocolate like milk or white chocolate with after dinner wines like Ports or Late Harvest Varietals with a significant percentage of residual sugar.
  • Dark chocolate on the other hand goes well with heavy a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Verdot or Pinotage.  Zinfandel can work but can be a bit risky.  If you want to try it, make sure it is a sweeter one.
  • Chocolates that include a significant amount of savory ingredients like peanuts or sea salt are easier to find a wine to compliment it.  Follow the same rules as you would with Dark chocolate.
  • Avoid lighter wines like Pinot Noir or Tempranillo.  They will usually be overwhelmed by the very strong flavor of the chocolate.
  • Chocolate that has a smaller percentage of cocoa butter will also be easier to match.  Generally the darker the chocolate, the smaller the percentage of cocoa butter.  White chocolate is mostly cocoa butter, which is a fat which is not a problem by itself but then add the sweetness of the chocolate and it can be tough to pair with wine.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing Suggestions

Before you hit your local chocolatier and prepare to spend a whole wad of money, review some of these suggestions first to find the best chocolate and wine pairing that fits your palate. Here are some examples:

  1. Peanut or Almond Clusters: If you’re working with a Wine and Chocolatechocolate that offers hints of nut or salt, focus on this to pair your wine. A stronger varietal like a Fasi Estate Syrah  or a Zinfandel from Deaver Vineyards, where they offer several sweeter Zinfandels as their signature wine.  Old Vine Zins are a great pairing as well.
  2. Dark Chocolate (Less Percent Cacao): Similar to those chocolates that also have a savory flavor like those mentioned above, a dark chocolate of any kind is going to be easier to pair than a milk chocolate. Dark chocolate pairs well with a couple of different wines.  Cabernet Sauvignon from Bent Creek or a Cuda Ridge, Zinfandel.
  3. Dark Chocolate (Greater Percent Cacao): Likewise, when dealing with a chocolate that has a higher percent of cacao, you’ll find it easier to pair with wine. We would recommend a Cuda Ridge Petite Verdot or Pelican Ranch or Loma Prieta’s Pinotage which are great choices to go with the heavier bitter flavor or the darker chocolate.
  4. Classic Milk Chocolate: Decided to play it safe and buy your sweetie some classic Dove Chocolates? No problem. A late harvest red wine that offers significant sugar notes to match with the chocolate is the ticket. Burrell School‘s late harvest Zinfandel is a great option here.
  5. White Chocolate: If white chocolate crosses your path on Valentine’s Day or Evening – not to fear. Grab your favorite Port like the one from Ficklin to accompany your white chocolate.

Have another suggestion to try? Leave your thoughts in the comments. If not, enjoy a happy Valentine’s Day and eat and drink well!

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