Wine & Chocolate
Anyone else been on a chocolate kick lately? Pairing wine and chocolate can be tricky because there is so much going on in chocolate and so many variations. Chocolate is sweet, bitter, nutty, fruity, and acidic…sometimes all of these.
So how can you find that perfect chocolate and wine pairing that will allow you to seamlessly transition from your New York strip to chocolate cake with the same bottle of wine?
Here are some go-to chocolate and wine pairings. Try them out, but don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. There are so many different chocolates and desserts that it is hard to find the perfect pairing for all of them, even sommeliers sometimes struggle to find the perfect match. But this guide will get you started.
Keep in mind that nearly all chocolate pairings are a dessert or red wine.
The darker the chocolate, the harder it is to pair with wine. The bitterness is really hard to compete with. Wiens that have a bit of sweetness and those that are fruit-forward will help counter this. To find a better pairing, go with a dark chocolate-themed dessert, like triple-chocolate cake or dark chocolate cheesecake.
These desserts still have plenty of dark chocolate but a higher fat and sugar content, making it easier to pair.
- Vin Santo
- Sweet Zinfandel
Milk chocolate is probably one of the easiest chocolates to pair because of the fat content. Chocolate truffles and any ganache filled chocolate are especially great for pairing.
- Banyuls Port
- Red blends
TIP: For those of you who are not lucky enough to live near a confectioner’s shop, there are some great online chocolate shops. Most of these online shops ship to places throughout the United States. If not, even a Hershey’s chocolate bar will do.
White chocolate only contains the fat from the cacao plant. So while it barely squeaks by as chocolate, we will include it anyway. In fact, white chocolate is one of the more versatile chocolate pairings, especially for white wine lovers!
If you are a white wine drinker you may have though chocolate and wine pairings would never be your thing. However, white chocolate is a great match for many white wines and sweet dessert wines.
- Moscato d’Asti
- Ice wine
- Off-dry to sweet Riesling
- Rose Port
- Sweet rose
Anyone else craving a Ghirardelli chocolate and caramel square right now? Caramel is a great match for dessert and fortified wines like Sherry and Port. This also goes for salted caramel.
- Moscato d’Asti
- PX Sherry
- Sweet sparkling wine
- Tawny Port
Peanut Butter Chocolate
No shame in pairing a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup with an aged Sherry…some people may even call that class.
Classic Chocolate Desserts
Chocolate cheesecake, rich triple chocolate cakes, and even chocolate cream pie are delicious and rich desserts. These are a bit more versatile because they have a higher fat and sugar content.
- Vintage Port
- Cabernet Sauvignon
What NOT to Pair with Chocolate
There are so many great wines and foods that pair with so many things, whether you want white or red wine. However, there are some wines that you really just should not pair with chocolate.
- Light red wines- Pinot Noir and Gamay are so versatile as red wines. However, they don’t typically hold up to chocolate very well. The lack of tannins and high acidity aren’t able to flow well with the intensity of the chocolate.
- Dry white wines- Wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Albarino are definitely wines to stay away from when pairing with chocolate. The acidity, lack of body, and tartness will not be able to share palate space with chocolate, especially darker chocolates.
Looking for ideas for your next Wine Wednesday?
Have a chocolate and wine tasting! Have each guest bring a bottle of wine and their favorite chocolate. Mix and match to find which pairings work best. Perfect for all the chocolatiers and wine lovers.
Attention New York State and North Carolina residents! Did you know that there is a whole company dedicated to hosting wine and chocolate festivals throughout these states? Check out their website to see if there is an upcoming event near you.
For those who don’t live near cities that host these festivals, check out your local tasting rooms and wine shops for chocolate and wine pairing events. These usually come up around the holidays and Valentine’s Day.