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  • Writer's pictureClaire @ fromthegrapevine

Chocolate and Wine


dark chocolate, Milk chocolate and White chocolate

September the 13th is International Chocolate Day, seemingly an invention by the Americans to celebrate the birthdate of Milton Hershey (founder of Hershey Chocolate Company). If you miss out on September 13th, then fear not, as July 7th also appears to be an accepted chocolate day, as does October 28th and December 28th; the latter probably arising from the need to eat up all the Christmas chocolates.

But can you drink wine and eat chocolate without one making the other taste weird? Yes! But choose carefully.

Some general rules of thumb;

  • The wine needs to be as sweet as the chocolate. Some chocolate (especially dark) isn't actually that sweet. Also, when thinking about sweetness in wine, you don't have to reach for the sickly dessert wines, many have fruitiness and / or residual sugars that are enough to complement the sweetness of the chocolate.

  • Generally red wines will go with dark chocolate, but beware for any wines that are high in tannin - opt for softer, fruitier styles

  • Generally white wines will go with milk and white chocolate, but beware any wine that is bone dry

  • Think about any additional flavours in the chocolate (or chocolate based dessert) such as ginger, cherry, butterscotch etc)

Wine pairing suggestion - Dark Chocolate

Amarone della Valpolicella

We've got a corker of a wine to propose with dark chocolate; chosen for its complex flavours of dark cherry, dark berries, fig, jam, raisin and a touch of cocoa. There's enough residual sweetness in this low tannin wine to lift the chocolate and softens any bitterness that comes from 85% cocoa solids.

The wine is Amarone della Valpolicella (from the Co-op, £18.29), a gold medal winner at the Berlin wine awards.

The reason that the Amarone is so expensive is because of its lengthy production process, in which the grapes are picked and then left to partially dry out, which concentrates the sugars. The fermentation process turns the sugars into alcohol (creating a wine that is a whopping 15% alcohol!) but also leaves a touch of sweetness behind.

Alternatives to Amarone include Dolcetto (another North Italian red grapes wine that pairs particularly well with cherry chocolate), sweet sherry or port.

Wine pairing suggestion - Milk Chocolate

Viognier

We have turned to the white wines, but needed something that has had time in oak. The maturation in oak will add vanilla notes to the wine, create a bit of creaminess and give the wine extra body (feels fuller in the mouth to stand up to the chocolate)

Whilst avoiding bone dry wines, you don't need a sweet wine either, as that may create too much sickliness for milk chocolate. Instead, you need something packed with delicate fruit and sweet spice, and for me, Viognier hits the spot.

The Co-op's Irresistable Viognier (£8.59) from renowned winemaker Paul Mas has beautiful ripe peachy flavours with honeysuckle and apricot. From the Pays D'oc region of france, the warmth of the sun has produced lovely ripe flavours. It has spent time fermenting in oak, so touches of vanilla come through and the wine has plenty of "mouth feel".

Alternatives to viognier include Alsace pinot gris, a ruby or tawny port, or sweeter styles of sparkling wine.

Wine pairing suggestion - White chocolate

White chocolate isn’t technically a “true” chocolate because it doesn’t contain cacao (part responsible for tannin), so it ends up being one of the few chocolates that will match with dry red wine. We tried it with a light Pinot Noir and found it a pleasant mix.

However, our suggestion is for a sweeter white wine due to the honey like flavours, so we recommend Lidl's late harvest Tokaji - a bargain at £5.99. Like the amarone earlier, the grapes have been left longer on the vine where they start to shrivel and concentrate the sugars. Rather than fermenting most of this sugar into a high alcohol wine (like amarone), the Tokaji leaves plenty of sugar in the wine, so it is only 10% alcohol.

It is fresh though, and melon, honey, raising and citrus come through. The reaction with the chocolate makes the wine less "cloying" and perks up the flavours, like a blurry picture suddenly sharpening into focus.

Alternatives to Takaji include sweeter styles of Riesling, light reds (Beaujolais / Pinot Noir), Moscato and Sauternes.

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