Wine & Chocolate Pairings

If you’ve tried wine and chocolate together, chances are that it wasn’t so successful. Wine and chocolate sounds like a great idea because both have intense, fruity notes and both are sweet. Unfortunately, this can be too much of a good thing where the pairing doesn’t resonate on the palate because of the similarities. For this reason, you will want to look for wine and chocolate pairings that play up the differences between the two treats.

WHITE CHOCOLATE – It’s fun to start things off with a bubbly, such as Moscato d’Asti, which highlights the creaminess in white chocolate. Sherry works too, as does Muscat, off-dry Rieslings and Rose`s. For a bold move, try pairing a big New World Zinfandel with white chocolate. The heavy wine seems like it would dominate the subtle chocolate but when you find the right Zin with the right white chocolate, the match can be heavenly.

MILK CHOCOLATE – The best wine pairings for balanced milk chocolates are sweet whites or mild reds. Think light Pinot Noirs, Sangiovese or Merlots on the red side, oak-aged Chardonnays, Pinot Gris or sweet Rieslings and Muscats, along with dessert whites. Avoid anything that’s too heavy when pairing a red wine with milk chocolate, as the wine will overpower the chocolate. Sparkling wine works for milk chocolate, too, especially those varieties that have fruity flavours. For nutty milk chocolates, port is a natural pairing.

DARK CHOCOLATE – Zinfandels stand out here, because they have full bodies, higher alcohol levels, and tend towards flavour notes of fruit and spice. Cabernet Sauvignon & Nebbiolo are other reds to consider, or if you prefer New World wines pick up a Shiraz, Grenache or a Malbec. Cabs tend toward berry flavours, which often work well with chocolate, and they are high in tannins without being too bitter. Pedro Ximenez Sherry works also.

Lighter dark chocolates, pair well with Merlots and Pinot Noirs. If you’ve tried these wines with milk chocolate, look for a fuller body, more tannic Pinot or Merlot to pair with your dark chocolate to keep things exciting for the palate. If this is your final pairing of the night, conclude with a nice port.

The best rule of all, with wine as with chocolate, is to indulge in what you love. Be guided by these pairing suggestions, but if you find a combination you particularly enjoy, go with it! ?

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