Chocolate and Wine Matching
Chocolate and wine matching is a relatively new thing on the wine scene. Although, to be fair even cheese and wine matching is still new to most. You think its red wine that goes best with cheese? Think again. And the same can be said for chocolate. Many people indulge in a glass or red with their chocolate, I have often been one of them! But as with all foods there are ways to match your wine and you chocolate that will get the best of both.
For me, this whole idea came about after attending a chocolate tasting. I previously had very little understanding of the process, but learning more about it, as well as trying different types completely opened my eyes. For example, did you know that you can get different varieties of cocoa plants, the taste different when grown in different locations? Or that the beans actually undergo a fermentation as part of the process? I didn’t, but it does go some way to helping understand why chocolate and wine matching is actually a very natural thing.
But possibly more important than the process was understanding the flavours. I had rather naively always had an ‘it just tastes like chocolate’ point of view, but when you really taste it, you can find fruit, floral, spice and roasted flavours, as well as different levels of bitterness, sweetness and different textures. It reminded me very much of when I first learned to taste wine! Also, as I was tasting each different type I couldn’t help but think of which wine would match best with each. The dark savoury chocolate from Ecuador was definitely one for a Rioja Gran Reserva, whereas the dark fruity chocolate from Vietnam would work much better with a Shiraz. And it’s not just about reds, a dark, fruity, spicy chocolate is a great match for a Gewurztraminer!
There is one thing you have to be careful with when pairing chocolate and wine, and that is the amount of sugar. In food and wine matching in general, you do not want your food to have more sugar than your wine. So savoury food with dry wine, sweet food with sweet wine. This does mean that the best matches for dry wines are dark chocolates. You can have them with sweeter milk chocolate, but it does tend to mask the fruit flavour, and often emphasise bitter tannins in reds. The best match for milk chocolate is therefore sweet wine! And you can have a great time exploring this. Think Sherry, Port, Late Harvest wines with different styles and flavours of milk chocolate wines. One of my favourite matches is a Late Harvest Orange Muscat with milk chocolate flavoured sea salt and toffee. I would really recommend you try it!
The great news is the combinations are pretty much endless, and it is a lot of fun to experiment! I write this while I am preparing for a sold out chocolate and wine tasting this evening, and my mouth is already watering. If this is has got your taste buds tingling as well then you can check out this and other food and wine matching events on the South London Wine School website.