Wine and chocolate both offer a broad range of flavours and flavour complexity. When wine and chocolate are paired well, the result takes both elements to a higher level. The result can reduce even the most discerning foodie to declarations of “OMG!”
Before we get into pairing, let’s talk chocolate. The everyday chocolate bars that line the cash at the corner store are the foot-soldiers of the chocolate world. When it comes to wine pairing, it’s worth moving further up the chocolate command chain. Look for the more specialized chocolate you’ll find in grocery store candy aisles, or, even better, true artisan chocolate from a chocolatier’s shop or local farmer’s market.
As with any wine and food pairing, there are no set rules. Palates are subjective and experimentation is the key to discovering new loves. However, there are some tips and established theories for those who prefer shortcuts over trial and error.
An overall rule of thumb is to match lighter coloured chocolate with lighter coloured wines — and vice-versa. Another good tip is to pair chocolate and wine that share a similar sweetness. If the chocolate is sweeter than the wine, it will cause the acids in the wine to become more pronounced —often leading to bitterness on the palate. Those two guidelines are the root of the following pairing suggestions.
This lighter, sweet chocolate pairs well with sweeter light-bodied wines. Try it with a Muscat, Riesling, Madeira, Pinot Noir, young Port or Champaign.
Nova Scotia Pairing Suggestion: 1019371 GRAND PRE RIESLING 750ml $19.99 and Milk Chocolate from Peace by Chocolate, in Antigonish.
Dark Chocolate (50% to 70%)
Darker chocolate calls for wines with more robust flavour profiles. Try it with Merlot, Shiraz, Chianti, Zinfandel or Rhone.
1013150 SAINTE FAMILLE BACO NOIR 750ml $17.99
Bittersweet Chocolate (70% to 100%)
Go bold with this intense, bitter gourmand favourite. Try it with Beaujolais, aged Port, Bordeaux or Malbec.
Nova Scotia Pairing Suggestion: 1014361 LUCKETT VINEYARDS PHONE BOX RED 750ml $21.99 with a Coffee & Dark Chocolate Bar from Gourmandises Avenue Chocolaterie, in Halifax
As mentioned above, these are simply suggestions. Just as there is a range of flavour profiles within the different wine varietals, there is also the promise of fantastic results from less traditional pairings.
Finally, when tasting a variety of wines with different chocolate, treat the experience like a sunset. Start with lighter chocolate and wines and progress to darker varieties as you work your way through the flights. With the right pairings in play, it’s bound to be a beautiful night.