Wine and chocolate are both indulgent treats that have been enjoyed for centuries. Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes, while chocolate is a sweet treat made from the beans of the cacao tree. Both are complex products that offer a wide range of flavors and aromas.
Why Wine And Chocolate?
When we choose to stay in for a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day, wine and chocolate are rarely left off the dinner menu. Maybe it’s because chocolate can increase our serotonin levels, allowing us to feel calm and balanced, and wine can stimulate the release of dopamine, producing feelings of well-being and happiness. Maybe it’s because, when thoughtfully selected, the right pairing can be pure indulgence for your taste buds.
Sommelier Tips To Pair Wine & Chocolate
Here are top four tips for finding a delicious wine and chocolate pairing worthy
of adding to your special day spread by a certified sommelier:
- Choose a wine that is as sweet or sweeter than your chocolate. Sweetness in
food decreases the perception of sweetness in wine; enjoying white chocolate
truffles while drinking a medium-dry wine might just make you wince at how
acidic the wine has become. However, match the same wine with a low-sugar
angel food cake, and you could have a winning pairing in which neither the wine nor the dessert overwhelms the other.
- Match the intensity of the chocolate with the intensity of the wine. Is the
chocolate high in cacao with deep, robust flavors? Or, is it soft, with subtle
flavors? Select an opulent, generous wine to go with the chocolate with intense flavors. Select a more easygoing wine to go with the understated chocolate.
- Match the mouthfeel of the chocolate with the mouthfeel of the wine. Is the
chocolate rounded and velvety or thick and syrupy? Opt for a smooth wine, like a Merlot or GSM (grenache, syrah, mourvédre blend), for the first. Opt for a more full-bodied, weightier wine, such as a Port or Muscat, for the latter.
- Factor in the add-ins. Some of my favorite chocolates contain almonds, orange
slices, strawberries, pretzels, or butterscotch. Consider a wine with hints of
nuttiness to pair with an almond-studded chocolate bar. Pick a wine with ripe
berry flavors to pair with freeze-dried chocolate-covered strawberries.
Wines can sing beautiful melodies on your palate on their own; chocolate, too.
But if you’re willing to take the risk and enjoy both together, sometimes you come
across a pairing that surpasses the sum of its parts.
To summarize, when pairing wine and chocolate, it’s important to consider the sweetness of both, matching the intensity and mouthfeel of the chocolate with the right type of wine, and factoring in any additional ingredients in the chocolate. Choosing a wine that is as sweet or sweeter than the chocolate, matching the intensity of the chocolate with the wine, and considering the mouthfeel and add-ins in the chocolate can help create a winning pairing in which neither the wine nor the chocolate overwhelms the other.
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Murphy earned her Wine, Spirits and Education Trust Advanced Award four years ago and established her brand, Matter Of Wine (MOW), to make fun, systematic wine education available to everyone. Since then, she has served as a Wine Educator for clients like Google, Buzzfeed, Tiktok, Snapchat, and Equinox and been featured on National Geographic, The Somm Journal, and wikiHow. MOW offers private tasting workshops led by sommeliers, in addition to hosting wine-centric events including Sip & Sails and Wine & Watercolors. Interested in learning more about wine or pairing food and wine? Email firstname.lastname@example.org about private in-home or in-office wine tasting workshops. Learn more about Matter Of Wine's private sommelier services by visiting Matter Of Wine's website.