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Wine and Chocolate Pairing: a balance between knowledge, experimentation, and listening to your taste buds!

Posted: Jan 27 2019

Before we get deep into the flavor notes and influences of wine and chocolate, please be reminded that everyone’s taste buds are different. Something that may be absolutely divine to one person, may not be such a perfect match for someone else. Keeping this in mind, it’s time to delve into the flavors of two indulgences: wine, and chocolate!
Fine wine is known for its intricate, flavorful notes that are affected by the geographic region, climate, and other conditions in which the grapes are grown. From there, the grapes are then crushed, fermented and bottled. In a similar way, the flavor profile of chocolate is affected by the conditions in which the cacao is grown, the process of making the chocolate, and the ingredients included.
When the two are paired properly, wine and chocolate can compliment each other in a way that brings out countless facets of incredible flavor. Different notes may become more or less prominent depending on how the delicate indulgences are paired.
The challenge with pairing wine and chocolate is the intricate flavors are numerous for both. Reaching a balance isn’t always the easiest, but we are here to explain it the simple way. Anyone can pair the two when hosting a dinner party or for date night with a little bit of knowledge.
As a general rule of thumb, try to keep with wine that is a tad sweeter than the chocolate treat. Additionally, it is important to have parallels between the wine and chocolate in terms of style and weight. If one of the flavors is fuller than the other, it can overtake the tasting experience completely. Or, if the wine and chocolate both have tannin-focused flavors, it can leave a prominent, sour flavor. When tasting multiple combinations, it is recommended to move from lower cocoa content to higher cocoa content, or lighter wine to deeper wine.
With white chocolate, it is important to pair the sweetest wines. White chocolate is known to be light, sweet, and buttery. Sherry and Moscato are ideal for pairing with white chocolate. Another option here is a relatively sweet rosé, or a sweeter Riesling. In other cases, white chocolate is to use the sweet, buttery texture of the white chocolate to soothe the tannin of higher alcohol content wines.
When it comes to milk chocolate, pairing with the silky-smooth texture with a light or medium bodied wine is the best idea. Milk chocolate can bring out some of the fresh fruit flavors and sweetness of certain red wines. Some ideas are Pinot Noir or a less full-bodied Merlot.
With dark chocolate, it is most important to stay away from the driest, slightly bitter wines. The darker the chocolate, the more bitter it is. When the more bitter chocolates are paired with more bitter wines, it leaves an incredibly dry and bitter taste on the tongue.
When thinking of more intricate chocolate desserts such as chocolate covered fruits, or mousse cakes, there are more facets to think about. With chocolate covered strawberries, we would highly recommend a bubbly beverage, such as champagne. Chocolate cake pairs well with wines that have a full-mouth feel and sweetness. Typically, it pairs best with deep, red wines like a ruby port or cabernet sauvignon.
With this background to start somewhere, take a taste and see which wines pair well with which chocolates to take you on a flavorful journey. Let us know what your favorites are! There is no right or wrong answer or way of doing this—it’s all about trying new things and finding what is most delightful for you.
Written by Kim at Gourmet Boutique
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