Valentine’s Ideas: Pairing Wine and Chocolate

Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Valentine’s Ideas: Pairing Wine and Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and obviously one of the most popular and traditional gifts to give is chocolate. Nearly everyone loves chocolate. It is an aphrodisiac, and often cases, even more so with the addition of some wine! So with that said, in this blog we’re going to explore the full extent of pairing wine and chocolate. Read on; your date this year will thank you.

Some basic guidelines to follow when pairing chocolate with wine are seen below. Like all the guidelines offered on this site, feel free to venture beyond them if you palate prefers different taste profiles, but the following three suggestions can be taken as a rule(s) of thumb:

1. The wine should be sweet, or sweeter than the chocolate you are serving.
2. The body wine and richness should match body and the richness of the chocolate.
3. Try to match the flavors of the wine with the flavors of the chocolate.

Chocolate and Wine Pairing

White Chocolate — Contains cocoa butter, but no other cocoa products. In order to actually qualify as “white chocolate” it must contain a minimum of 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, and a maximum of 55% sugar. Since white chocolate is so light, the wine must be as well. White chocolate pairs the best with Champagne/Sparkling wine and Muscat with a hint of orange or sherry flavors.

Milk Chocolate – Contains cocoa butter, chocolate liquor and either has condensed milk or dry milk solids. In order to be classified as milk chocolate it must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor, 3.39% butterfat, and 12% milk solids. Milk chocolate is sweet, and light in color. The best wine pairings are Tawny Port, Pinot Noir, a light body Merlot, Riesling, and Champagne/Sparkling.

Dark Chocolate — Contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and lecithin. It does not contain any milk solids and it comes in a variety of different styles, sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet or unsweetened. A bittersweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense, shout-at-you California Zinfandel or even a tannin-highlighting Cabernet Sauvignon. The darker the chocolate the more tannins it will display.

Sweet Dark Chocolate —Is the sweetest dark chocolate, and contains usually about 30% to 50% cocoa. The best wines to pair with sweet and semi-sweet wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Bordeaux blend, (Some of the grapes in Red Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere), and Ruby Port. There are many other wines from other regions that would work with this pairing.

Semi-sweet Dark Chocolate — Is very similar to sweet dark chocolate, but it contains more cocoa, 40% to 60%. Just like with sweet dark chocolate the best pairings are Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Bordeaux blends, and fuller bodied Merlot and Ruby Port. Again, buy a wine that works for you and try to match that wine with the weight of the chocolate.

Bitter-sweet Dark Chocolate — Is less sweet and can contain 60% to 90% cocoa. The higher the percentage usually the less sweet it is. The best pairings for a bitter-sweet chocolate is richer wine like a Red Zinfandel, Syrah, Petit Syrah or Grenache.

So with the above in mind, if you’re looking to really wow your lady this year with your expansive knowledge of varietals and cocoa, then try something along these lines

Make it a Taste Date

Set your date up with a taste selection of 3 different wines and chocolates, preferably white, milk, and dark, and then match those up with three different wines that you both enjoy that pair with the richness of the chocolate. Start with the lightest chocolate, having her take a sip of the wine followed by allowing her to melt the chocolate in her mouth, followed by a another sip of the wine. Proceed through the chocolates, infusing the rich, velvet cocoa with the complex flavors of the wine. The result of these two components is a taste greater than the sum of its parts—kind of like your relationship, right? By the time you’re finished enjoying these wonderful treats you should be well on your way to a pleasant valentines evening.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

About Dave Keighron

Dave Keighron has written 63 posts in this blog.

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