It can be a blissful occasion and a union of tantalizing flavors that complement each other in Cocoa-Vino matrimony. As February has been deemed the month of all things hearts and cupids and you are
guilted compelled by the lure of commercialization to purchase that glossy red box of confectionary delights and a glistening bottle of wine to accompany, take note! Not all Cocoas will play nice with all Vinos…and vice versa.
Matchmaking is not a willy-nilly business as any sage will tell you – you must look at the attributes of both Cocoa and Vino to ensure a pleasant and harmonious marriage. Cocoa’s intense character can overshadow poor Vino’s subtle personality, while sometimes Vino’s dry sense of humor might make Cocoa pucker instead of laugh and thereby create a disunity.
Pairing a Cocoa with the right Vino doesn’t have to be rocket science. As long as you can read an ingredient label and follow some simple guidelines, you too, can be a successful Cocoa and Vino matchmaker! So read on and get the confetti ready for true wine and chocolate bliss.
Dark chocolate has intense flavors and depending on the percentage of cocoa-mass it can also be on the bitter side. Fruity and nutty notes are often detected as well which can be fun to play with when pairing with wine.
A lighter red or white wine is not going to pair well with the intenseness of dark chocolate. Instead, choose a full-bodied red, like Zinfandel or a robust red blend specifically from California for a compatible and delightful Cocoa and Vino marriage in your mouth.
A lighter red or white with a fruity hint will work nicely with milk and white chocolate. Lighter wine selections include the sweet, sparkling varieties of Italy’s Brachetto d’Acqui or Moscato d’Asti. Experiment with Grenache selections, Madeira, Sherry, and Muscats are wonderful partners with milk and white chocolate. An Orange Muscat makes the fruity notes of a lighter chocolate pop with sheer delight!
It’s all about a sumptuous Ruby Port when pairing your ultra chocolate supreme dessert with wine. Port will not be overshadowed by your decadent dessert. With it’s punchy berry flavor and powerful edginess, Port and chocolate fall easily into choco-love.
The rule of thumb is to let the wine bow to the chocolate to maintain an amiable balance of cocoa and wine tannins on your palate. Sweeter wines won’t clash with the intensity of a dark chocolate.
Create your own event and line up a range of chocolate from white, to milk, to intensely dark and do the same with your wine. Start on the lighter side with the lightest and mildest chocolate with that of your wine selection and go from there.
Like wine tasting, you want to start with the lightest aromas and flavors and gradually move into the more intense and robust flavors. This way your palate will be able to pick up the most nuanced of flavors in both the chocolate and wine.
And remember: good quality chocolate is going to produce better results, because, let’s face it, cheaper chocolate is a lot of sugar and little cocoa. So, this Valentine’s day give your sweetheart a real kiss and leave the chocolate ones for the kids!
Milk Chocolate: Port, Madeira, Vin Santo, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gewurztraminer, some sweeter styles of sparkling wine
Dark Chocolate: Port, PX Sherry, Banyuls, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Chocolate with Sea Salt: Salt amps up flavors, so opt for either end of the wine spectrum with a white wine pick like a sweet-styled Late Harvest Gewürztraminer or a fruit-driven, food-friendly Zinfandel or even a Malmsey Madeira for a fortified find.
Chocolate with Nuts (including peanut butter cups!): Madeira, tawny Port, PX or Oloroso Sherry
Chocolate with Berries: Banyuls, sparkling wines, Brachetto d’Acqui, Moscato d’Asti, ruby Port
Chocolate with Caramel: Madeira, Tawny Port, PX Sherry, Vin Santo, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, sweet sparkling wines
Chocolate Cake: Banyuls, Madeira, Port, PX Sherry, Vin Santo, Shiraz