On Valentine’s Day, the most common gifts for our loved ones are usually wine and chocolate. Of course, they are just perfect ingredients to awaken the senses and sweeten the soul. The paradox is that when it comes to enjoying them together, this combination can be quite challenging.
It turns out that, in general, the fat content of chocolates overcoats our palate and masking most of the wine’s flavours. It also happens that milk chocolates tend to clash with dry wines (without sweetness). Or that the mixture of a dark chocolate with a full-bodied dry red wine intensifies the presence of tannins in our mouth (because chocolate also has tannins), turning bitter and acidic on the palate.
But don’t panic! We just want you to be aware of the possibilities and help you choose the most appropriate options. Because when the selection of chocolate and wine is just right, it can be transformed into an stimulant experience.
A very practical tip from Decanter columnist, Fiona Beckett, is to think of the sort of fruit that might work with a type of particular chocolate and find a wine that includes those flavours. Like dark chocolate and orangey Muscatel, for example. While Sarah Jane Evans, Master Sommelier and author of the book Chocolate Unwrapped, says that “to make a perfect marriage a third element is needed: sweetness, either from residual sugar or a supple sense of richness from alcohol”. Next, some pairings ideas that do not fail.
Dark chocolate with Argentinian Malbec
As we mentioned before, wines with a bit of residual sweetness can help to soften the bitterness of tannins in dark chocolate (with at least 35% of cocoa), which has low sugar levels. In this case, some options to play it safe are Port or a Late Harvest. But if you would like to try a red, Terrunyo Malbec 2016 from Uco Valley (in Mendoza), has a sweet entry with an alcohol content of 14.3 degrees, two characteristics that make it the ideal candidate for a dark chocolate bar.
Milk chocolate with Viognier or Pinot Grigio
If you prefer sweeter chocolates with a significant cream content and a lower cocoa concentration level, these can work very well with aromatic and slightly sweet white wines such as Casillero del Diablo Viognier, Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio or a Gewürztraminer. Or if you are looking for a red wine, fruity and medium-bodied wines such as Merlot or sweet sparkling wine are excellent options too.
White chocolate with Sauvignon Blanc
Because it basically does not contain solid cocoa, but rather is a mixture of cocoa butter, sugar and dairy products like milk, white chocolate is very sweet, has a very creamy texture on the palate and subtle flavour. This is why dry, light white wines can be a good counterpoint to freshen the palate. One idea is to pair it with a dry Riesling, and the other is with a glass of Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc.
It is important to mention that like wines, how chocolate is made is just as important as its origin. And that the greatest cocoa terroirs are Venezuela, Ecuador, Madagascar, Vietnam and Perú.
We hope this information will help you to choose better options on your next chocolate and wine pairing. Happy Valentines!