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Wine and Chocolate, yes or no?

Updated: Dec 20, 2023





Before I discuss my experiences with pairing wine and chocolate I think we should do a quick refresher on the Guidelines / STEPS TO PAIRING Wine with food.:


1.  Know the GUIDELINES of Wine Pairing

 

2.  Identify the BASIC Tastes in the Wine & Food.

 

3.  Assess the INTENSITY of the dish to find an equally intense Wine

 

4.  Choose the Basic Taste Strategy (e.g. Sweet + Salt / Fat + Acid / Sweet + Sour / Fat + Tannin)

 

5.  Play with Subtle CONGRUENT, similar to, and COMPLIMENTARY, go well together, Food Pairings.

 

Wine & Chocolate Pairing:

Ok, now let's look at matching Wine & Chocolate.

One of my pleasant duties as NSW sales manager of VHWS was to do wine presentations on Carnival Cruise Line's P&O line. They were a good customer of ours and to cement our relationship I ran 2 wine sessions on some of their cruises for around 7 years. I also trained some of their wait-staff on each cruise. The 2 sessions were "How to look like an expert in under one hour", and, you guessed it, "Wiine and Chocolate pairing".


I was skeptical about the match until I met Tina Vamvoukakis, owner and chocalatier for Adora Chocolates, a winner of major awards for the quality of their produce, based in Sydney.

Tina was presentiing Adora chocolate educational sessions on P&O Cruise Lines which coincided with one one of my early cruises as a wine presenter. We were asked. to put a session together and present the matches.


Before each cruise Tina and I would look at P&O winelist to do the match. I would take examples of the wines we wanted to use to Tina's family run factory so that we could taste the wines and Tina would come up with a chocolate to match.


All the matches were a huge success and I became a believer. Pairing wine with chocolate can be a delightful experience, and there are various options to explore.


Some examples: and I do wish that my memory was better so that I could give a better description.

  • Sauvignon Blanc was matched with a White Chocolate that had "real" passion fruit in its centre. The wine's acid was diminished by the coating of chocolate over the taste buds.

  • Riesling was matched with a Milk Chocolate that had a "real" lime centre.

  • Pinot Noir with a Dark Chocolate that had a strawberry / cherry centre (rea fruit)

  • Cabernet Sauvignon was matched with Dark Chocolate with a coffee centred (praline??) and many more.


Here's a guide on wine and chocolate pairings:


Sweetness in Food Increases the Perception” of Bitterness; Acidity and the Burn of Alcohol, AND, Decreases the “Perception” of Body; Sweetness & Fruitiness. Wine & Chocolate have Similarities – BOTH are Aphrodisiacs, and BOTH contain Antioxidants - Still a massive challenge to pair Wine & Chocolate because Chocolate is Thick and Creamy, covering our Taste Buds, and as an example, dark chocolate has a bitter edge, and I do like my Lindt 90 - 95%, so I prefer red wine as the match with its deeper flavours, mouthfeel and tannins..


Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate has a bitter edge, and most of the wines below are sweet wines with lots of mouthfeel and texture. I do prefer red wine with my dark chocolate, but you may like to try ..

  • Vin Santo del Chianti or Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice.

  • Port-style Red Wines: Like

  • Port: The original Port from Portugal.

  • Pedro Ximenez: Sherry.

  • Chinotto: A bitter-sweet aromatic beverage.

  • Red wine from Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon.

White Chocolate: Has no Cacao; No Flavanols, Nor Tannins - is it officially a chocolate?

  • White wines with Matching Flavour profiles.

  • Sweet whites that are higher in sweeness than the chocolate.

  • Pinot Noir: A light-bodied Pinot Noir with all the red berry flavours. White Chocolate acts as the FAT that delivers Sweet Flavours of Red Cherries / Strawberries & Raspberries found in Pinot Noir.

  • Gamay (Beaujolais): The Light- Bodied red wine example, with Low Tannins. with Red Fruit Flavours to Blackcurrant & Blueberries.

  • Moscato d’Asti: A White Wine with delicate Peaches; Cream; Citrus; Floral and Apricot notes, and ACID.


Milk Chocolate: Light and creamy

  • Recioto della Valpolicella, A sweet red wine from the Veneto region of Nth Italy.

  • Sweet Wine (Including Port; Muscat; Tokays) & Sweet Sparkling Red Wine ( from Piemonte or a Lambrusco from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy; Sparkling Shiraz, a Brachetto d’Acqui etc).

  • White wines with matching flavour profiles.


In the end personal tastes vary, so consider the chocolate's sweetness, bitterness, and any additional flavours it might have when choosing your wine.

Experiment to discover your own wine and chocolate pairings, be creative and enjoy your journey in finding your perfect wine and chocolate combinations.

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