Wine and Walnuts

A blog about eating, drinking, cooking and reading in the not so Deep South

Food and Wine Pairing: Wine and Chocolate


[picappgallerysingle id="291255"]OK, it’s the holidays and it’s likely you’re going to be consuming a lot of dessert-type items in the coming weeks. So I thought I’d revisit some wine and chocolate pairing advice I wrote about a few months ago . . .

When I was researching wine and chocolate pairing back in February for a Valentine’s Day blog post, I learned something new.  I’d read lots over the years about pairing wine and chocolate, mostly about how difficult it is. Before I knew what I know now, I assumed this was the easiest of pairings, and did pair the two often, without fear of doing it “wrong.” 

But apparently, according to the fine folks at Wine Spectator and a few other resources I consulted, there’s A LOT more to consider than just grabbing a bottle of wine and a hunk of chocolate and calling it done.

Here’s what I found out:

 • Dry wines usually don’t do well with desserts — the wine has to be sweeter than the dessert, otherwise, the wine can taste bitter, or the dessert doesn’t taste as good as it should.

• Chocolate is different though, especially if you have high quality chocolate, because very high quality chocolate has very little sugar, which can work well with a young red wine with a lot of fruit character. High quality chocolate is not really sweet, but it’s also not bitter, because the chocolate and the cacao balance each other out.

• The higher the sugar content of the chocolate, the more difficult it is to pair with a dry red wine (a higher sugar content chocolate will emphasize the tannins in a wine, the same effect as pairing a dry wine with dessert, and will make the wine more “austere.”)

So, pairing wine and chocolate is simple, and what it boils down to is this:

1.  Pick a youthful red wine that has good fruit character and a nice balance; you don’t want a mature red that has more spice and earth and other stuff going on, you want a wine that emphasizes the fruit.

2.  Look for a chocolate that has enough sweetness to balance the bitter, say, at least  60% cacao or more, and 13/13.5 grams of sugar or less, and you’ll be good to go.

The reason I had wine and chocolate on the brain to start with is because I recently went the Wine and Chocolate Pairing at The Fortunate Glass in downtown Wilmington.  The following five pairings were offered (you can use these five pairings for guidance in your own wine-and-chocolate pairing experiments.):

• Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley, California 2006 with white chocolate dipped strawberries

• Annabella Pinot Noir, Carneros, California 2008 with Michael Cluziel Milk Chocolate Squares

• Cambria “Tepusquet” Syrah, Santa Maria, California 2006 with dark chocolate squares

• Justin Cabernet, Paso Robles, California 2008 with dark chocolate bacon brownie

• Michael David Petite Petit, Lodi, California 2008 with dark chocolate maple truffles and chocolate mousse

Of those 5 pairings, #1 was hands-down my very favorite.  Oh my, was it ever good!  I will be pairing those two things on my own again sometime very soon.


PS – If you want to have a chocolate and wine pairing of your own, feel free to check out my other website for more info on booking a wine tasting with me, and I’ll be happy to guide you in selecting chocolates for the wine!

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About The Author

Kimberly Houston


3 Responses to “Food and Wine Pairing: Wine and Chocolate”

  1. Deena Craig says:

    I agree…the Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc and the white chocolate dipped strawberry were utterly amazing. But I’m a huge fan of sparkling wines and champagne. I’m thinking New Years Eve…and perhaps every weekend between now and then would be a good excuse to enjoy such a pairing…it’s the holidays after all!

  2. Kimberly, what a great post. Thank you. I didn’t realize that a younger, fruitier red is would be a safer bet for fine chocolate.

  3. Betty — I know, I was surprised to find that out too! When I first started out on my wine journey several years ago, I obviously had no idea what I was doing when it came to pariring wine and chocolate! : )

    Deena — I totally agree, the Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc paired with the white chocolate dipped strawberries were the hands-down hit of the evening. And I’m 100% with you on enjoying Champagne and sparkling wine as often as possible! ; )

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