At Christmas, there’s always a bountiful supply of amazing chocolate available. From chocolate boxes to desserts, it’s everywhere you turn! At the Ideal Wine Company, we’ve been working on the perfect wine and chocolate pairings to add to the indulgence this festive period. Here are our top tips for pairing the two.
Tips to pair your chocolate and wine successfully
- Keep things simple: start with a wine that is slightly sweeter than the chocolate. As both wine and chocolate carry their own strong intensity, using a sweeter wine will allow the chocolate to dominate and the wine to complement.
- Opt for a similar style and weight: when it comes to pairing wine and chocolate, look for similarities. A good rule to remember is the stronger the chocolate, the stronger the wine. As well, dark chocolate tends to pair well with dry tannin texture.
- Taste from light to dark: similar to a formal wine tasting, it is best to move from light chocolate to dark chocolate if you are eating different varieties. Start with white or milk chocolate, paired with a light-bodied wine and move onto dark chocolate and full-bodied wines. Through starting with the understated flavours if white chocolate and ending on dark chocolate, your palate will not be overwhelmed. You will still be able to notice the subtle sweetness and notes of delicate chocolate and wine.
White chocolate – mellow and sweet
When pairing your white chocolate with wine, be aware of the high percentage of cocoa fat. This creates a smooth and buttery flavour and a creamy texture. Due to this mellowness, white chocolate works well with sweeter wines. Try a sherry or a Muscat, which will pick up the creaminess and highlight any subtle fruit notes within the chocolate.
An alternative route to take is opting for contrast. This bolder option takes the higher alcohol and full-bodied flavour of a wine such as a Zinfandel to oppose the mellow sweetness of the chocolate. Using the tannin content to soften the chocolate’s fat allows an unexpected balance.
Milk chocolate – light and silky
A popular choice, milk chocolate’s cream content provides a little element of fat. This addition helps it to pair well with wine. When working with these cocoa butter components and the smooth character of the chocolate, try pairing it with a medium-bodied red. The ripeness, silky tannins and lighter body of a Pinot Noir makes an excellent choice, while a medium-bodied Merlot will also work well. Their bright acidity and fruit flavours will accent the chocolate and hold up well against milk chocolate’s smooth and sweet profile.
Dark chocolate – bold and dense
Dark chocolates contain a high cacao content, which means that a wine must be able to handle this intensity. Ideally, you should be looking for a wine that offers a fuller body, intense flavours and robust aromas. Look for wines that contain bold fruit notes. A Zinfandel handles dark chocolate particularly well, due to its combination of spices and dense fruit flavours. Full-bodied wines are the way forward for dark chocolate.
The goal of this pairing is to balance the tastes, sweet or bitter. Whether you choose to try a wide variety of chocolate or indulge in your favourite, looking at what elements make up your chocolate make it easier to pair and enjoy.