Chocolate and red wine are both delicious indulgences but delicious together? You may be a bit wary of this pairing and with good reason. Matching a chocolate with a red wine is not as simple as quickly grabbing any chocolate and bottle off the shelf. It requires a little forethought and a taste for experimentation.
Luckily there are a few guidelines that will help direct you on your chocolate and wine matching quest. Ideally the chocolate and wine selections should be close in sweetness. It doesn't matter so much if one is sweeter than the other as long as neither is significantly sweeter.
Here's why. If the chocolate is much sweeter than the wine, it will enhance the bitter flavor of the wine. If the wine is much sweeter than the chocolate, it will overwhelm your taste buds leaving no room for the flavor of chocolate.
Another good rule of thumb is to match flavor intensities. A deep, richly flavored chocolate needs a similarly deep, rich wine. Likewise a chocolate light in flavor needs a light wine.
Now that we've gone over the basics, it's time to get to the good stuff.
If bittersweet dark chocolates are your preference, then you'll need strong red wines with concentrated fruit notes like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Port or Shiraz. Another excellent pair for this type of chocolate is a California Zinfandel. Bittersweet chocolates, because of their strong flavor and lack of sugar, can stand up to these higher tannin red wines. Tannins are responsible for the dry mouth and puckering that you experience after tasting some red wines.
Sweeter dark chocolates need a wine with slightly robust flavors. This is the perfect opportunity to accentuate the subtle chocolate notes of a Cabernet Sauvignon or Red Zinfandel. A Port wine also goes well with the rich, full flavor of dark chocolate.
Additionally dark chocolate or milk chocolate can be paired with Merlot or Pinot Noir.
If you prefer your chocolate a little sweeter, why not try a semi-sweet chocolate with Shiraz, Merlot or Banyuls. Ruby Port and milk chocolate are a natural, easy go-to pair.
Looking for a red wine to have with your chocolate soufflé? A port style or late-harvest red is an excellent choice. Either of these sweet wines will stand up nicely to the sweetness of chocolate desserts.
White chocolate, considered by some as technically not a chocolate, is surprisingly a match for Zinfandel. This pair is a case of opposites attract. The high tannic and high alcohol content of the Zinfandel paired with the creamy, buttery white chocolate blends together.
Allow these guidelines to get you started on your chocolate and wine pairing adventure but don't be afraid to make your own matches.
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