How to Pair Wine and Chocolate
Wine is good. Chocolate is good. Put the two together and you have something truly great. While it's common knowledge that some wines go well with some chocolates, it's a little less easy to narrow it down to which pairings work best. Here's a cheat sheet that'll make sure you get the most out of every pair during your next event.
Rule #1 - Don't Have Too Much of a Good Thing
Both chocolate and wine can have sweet, intense flavors. If you put a bold wine with a rich chocolate, you'll end up with flavor overload. Something's gotta give, and in this case the wine should be the one to take the back seat. Go for a wine that's a little sweeter than the chocolate you're serving.
Rule #2 - Keep it Juicy
Keep texture in mind when creating a chocolate pairing. A dry wine mixed with a bittersweet chocolate can easily be too much for most palettes. Reach for a soft, fruit-forward wine and avoid anything too tanic when pairing with most chocolates.
Rule #3 - Go Light to Dark
Just like when you taste wine, it's best to go from light to dark when you pair chocolates. Start out the tasting with sweeter options (white chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with caramel) and move onto drier, richer flavors. This will make sure your palette will pick up on some of the subtle notes of the sweeter options, rather than starting out overwhelmed by bold flavors.
What Do I Do With…
White Chocolate: Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you this isn't real chocolate! With its light, buttery texture and fruity undertones, white chocolate absolutely deserves a place in any tasting. Pair it with a sweet wine like a bubbly Moscato or a Sherry.
Milk Chocolate: There's lots of variation between milk chocolates, but in general if you pair with a Pinot Noir or a Merlot you'll have a great experience. Or get really fancy with a pairing of Champagne with milk chocolate covered strawberries.
Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa percentage than milk chocolate, and thus needs a fuller-bodied wine. Zinfandels are a fantastic go-to for darker chocolates, as is a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sea Salt Chocolate: If your chocolate has salt, it's going to turn up the flavor in whatever wine you pair it with. Therefore, go for something bold. Doesn't matter if it's white or red as long as it's bringing some flavor.
Hazelnut Chocolate: Eating hazelnuts? Grab a wine that grew next door. Brachetto d'Acqui is a sweet wine that is grown in the same region as hazelnuts.
Caramel Chocolate: Our go-to for chocolate caramel is Port. It's rich and complex, rounding out caramel's flavors for a full, delicious experience.
Our Final Tip:
Everyone's palette is different, so the only way to truly know which pairings work for you is to try them. We know it's a hardship to have to sample different chocolates and wine, but if you want to give guests a great experience you'll just have to take one for the team. Best of luck in finding the perfect pair!