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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, couples and singles alike will be looking to enjoy the decadence that is wine and chocolate. Read on for our tips on making the most out of your wine and chocolate pairings no matter the occasion.
For pairing wines with sweet foods, there are a few “rules of the road” to follow. First off, it is important to always make sure the wine served is sweeter than the food you are pairing. If the food is sweeter, the wine will come across as sour and bitter more often than not. It is also important to consider the flavors of desserts. Fruit flavors like apple and lemon tend to work better with white wines like Riesling or Chenin Blanc while berry and plum flavors work better with wines like Port or Madeira. Concentrated and richer desserts also tend to work better with fortified wines like Port or Tawnies as well. Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule. And don’t forget the most important rule: drink what you like and eat what you like! The idea of food and wine pairing exists to create harmony and additional enjoyment while dining.
Now that you’ve gotten the basics, let’s breakdown our pairing suggestions based on these classic chocolate flavors.
White chocolate tends to be sweet, especially when compared to milk or dark chocolates. Late harvest Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs have naturally high acid levels that work well with white chocolate’s high-fat component. Preparation of the chocolate is key here, and depending on how the white chocolate is served there may be an impact on proper wine pairings. If the white chocolate is served with more assertive flavors (layered with other chocolates or covered berries), it may be best to keep those in mind. Vanillas and lighter caramels may also fall into the same vein as white chocolate from a pairing point of view. Sweeter sparkling wines like a Demi-Sec also work really well.
Milk chocolate is the most popular form of chocolate on the planet. As a result, it gets paired with wines more than any other chocolate. Because of its rather rich and assertive flavors, dessert wines like Port or Madeira work harmoniously with this chocolate selection: a 10-year Malmsey Madeira enjoyed with a milk chocolate bar is heavenly. Another great pairing with milk chocolate is with a low-alcohol and sweet red sparkling wine from Italy. Brachetto d’Acqui is a wine from the Piedmont region of North Italy and has wonderful berry flavors that compliment chocolate (even white and dark as well as milk) beautifully! Plus, who doesn’t love more bubbles in their life?
Because dark chocolate tends to be less sweet than other chocolates, it allows itself to be paired with less sweet wines, like drier versions of Madeira, or red wines with just a kiss of sweetness, like Amarone or some ripe expressions of Zinfandel. Try one of those ubiquitous California Red Blends with a piece of high cocoa content dark chocolate for a very satisfying treat.
Ready to learn more about the world of wine? Check out our latest blog post on pairing cheese and wine!
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