Wine and Chocolate: A Memorable Match

The botanical name for the cacao tree, from which chocolate comes from, means “food of the gods.” During the month of February, most of us will increase our consumption of chocolate in honor of St. Valentine. Many wine lovers feel pairing wine with chocolate is a match made in heaven and, in many respects, wine and chocolate are quite similar.

Appearance, smell, in the mouth feelings, flavors and finish are all relevant when evaluating wine and chocolate. Sometimes the same aromas and flavors are found in both. Each can be described as light, full-bodied or strong, as well as fruity and spicy. Generally, wine can be red, white or pink while chocolate is dark, milk or white. Using your senses to experience wine and chocolate will help you discover great matches.

With so many wines and a seemingly endless amount of chocolate concoctions, the potential for heavenly matches appears unlimited. How do we make the most of our vast choices to create great wine and chocolate matches? We can apply a few basic rules when pairing wine with chocolate and the decadent desserts made with it. These rules take into consideration the sweetness, bitterness, acidity, strength, body, aroma, and flavor profiles.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing Rules

Compliment the dessert with wines that have similar aroma characteristics. Compliment the chocolate with wines that have complimentary characteristics.Match lighter, more elegant flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines.The stronger the chocolate, the more full- bodied the wine should be. Remember that generally, the wine should be at least as sweet as the dessert.

Chocolate-Friendly Wines

Not all wines pair well with chocolate. When pairing, avoid the Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays. Lean towards sweet, fortified and red wines for best results. The wines that are most “chocolate-friendly” include Banyuls (a French dessert wine), ice and late harvest wines, sweet sherries, asti and Port. These pair well with chocolate because the wine is at least as sweet as the dessert. Asti pairs well with lighter desserts, while Banyuls and ruby, tawny or vintage Ports marry well with richer desserts. Strong dark chocolate does well with sweet wines and powerful reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot. Milk or sweet chocolate melts in your mouth with Muscat or Madeira. White chocolate and a Late Harvest wine or Moscato d’Asti create an equally enjoyable combination. The key is to experiment, have fun, and discover what you enjoy.

Wine and Chocolate
Pairing in Action

Inside Annapolis, DeLoache Chocolate is a company that creates amazing chocolate confections. Joanne DeLoache, the company’s Vice President, created a customized tasting kit for me to use during a tasting party. My guests participated in a blind tasting of six chocolates, following the instructions included with the tasting kit. The procedure for tasting chocolate is similar to that used in wine tasting. We tasted each of the wines with the chocolates and noted which pairings were extraordinary. Taste is personal, so there were several stars. We learned about the chocolate, where it was from, manufactured and how the percentage of cocoa affects taste. Needless to say, everyone had a great time. Who wouldn’t? This is a fabulous activity you can do at home.

Real Wine and
Chocolate Pairings:

Don Quixote Reserva 2000 Tempranillo (Spain) & Ecuador Nacional (Ecuador)

Apex Merlot 2000 (Washington, USA)
& Tanzanie (East Africa)

Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage 2003 (France) & Columbian (Columbia) or Sur del Lago (Venezuela)

Quinta De Ventozelo Porto (Portugal)
& Callebaut Select Milk (Venezuela)
or Grand Cru Caraque (Venezuela

If you would like a chocolate
tasting kit visit or call (410) 268-8100.


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