Wine & Food

Snooth User: HB Carter

Wine With Chocolate

Posted by HB Carter, Sep 29, 2011.

I have always wanted a set of general Rule of Thumb style guides for wine pairings. Well, a friend of mine in the wine biz sent me his wine + chocolate guide so I thought I'd share. Mad props to my friend "D" who pulled this together. 




Here are some examples (keep in mind these are simply rules of thumb)....
White chocolate: tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry, for a Moscato d'Asti, or an Orange Muscat. The Sherry and Moscato d’Asti will pick up the creaminess of the chocolates and the Orange Muscat will pick up any fruit tones on the scene. Another route, for pairing wine with white chocolate is going for the contrast pairing approach, this is a little riskier, but when you find a match it can be exceptional. For example, taking a wine like a Zinfandel which tends to have a heavier tannic content and often a higher alcohol level and partnering it with a creamy, buttered white chocolate can have an unusual "melding" affect. It's like the tannins get softened out by the fat content and make for a remarkable potential for pairing.
Milk Chocolate:
Pinot Noir or a lighter-bodied Merlot will complement a bar of milk chocolate, a creamy chocolate mousse or chocolate accented cheesecake. RieslingsMuscats or dessert winestend to hold up well to mild milk chocolates. Also consider a sparkling wine or Champagnefor pairing with milk chocolate dipped strawberries. Last, but not least a classic milk chocolate pairing to consider is a nice Ruby Port - a very safe bet when looking for a perfect wine to accent milk chocolate.
Dark Chocolate:
Dark or bittersweet chocolates need a wine that offers a roasted, slightly robust flavor itself, with perhaps a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabs and Zinfandels have a history of perfecting the dark chocolate match, resulting in an unparalleled tasting combination. ACabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel, will more than fill your chocolate pairing expectations. Also consider a Pinot Noir or a Merlot to handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Finally, give a Tawny or Vintage Port a go to offer a very well balanced pairing approach to a dark chocolate dessert or truffle.




Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 29, 2011.

Thank you for this post about two of my favorite things: wine and chocolate.  Personally, I feel you can hardly go wrong with a Cabernet Sauvignon and some dark chocolate.  I only like Port with very dark chocolate, 70% or more, because I don't like too much sweetness. 

Last night I was finishing off a bottle of Gavi and got a sudden urge for chocolate.  I had a small piece of dark chocolate with the wine, and it was really good.  I would not have picked that pairing on purpose, but it was certainly yummy.

Reply by HB Carter, Sep 29, 2011.


Laura, Glad you liked the post. I am a milk chocolate guy myself and a Tawny Port is one of my true loves. Surprise, surprise they go together. That being said, I have been to a few tastings where the reps know me /us now and some of the better ones have come up with crazy pairings! Never in my life would I have ever voluntarily paired blue cheese, red wine, and the chocolate candy corn together in my mouth. (I avoid candy corn like the plague). Then a trusted rep gave me some and would you believe, not only was it good... but I actually went back for more. Unbelievable! Just goes to show that I should never rule out any varieties or flavors. Enjoy!


Reply by dmcker, Sep 29, 2011.

Never have encountered any kind of matchability between unfortified wines and chocolate, (other than maybe champagne). Whole segments of the flavor profile for both the wine and the chocolate clash with each other out. Diminished enjoyment of the chocolate, but even more a waste of the wine. Too much flavor intensity in the chocolate, and too much sweetness, cancel out enjoyment of a dry or even off-dry table wine for me.

Was a question in another thread about what wine to match with 'steak in a chocolate sauce'. At first I was worried it was a mole poblano sauce which is problematic, but it turned out to be cocoa powder dusting of a steak that was then grilled. Less of a problem but still only a very few wines would shine with that matching, IMHO.

Fortified wines and distilled liquor (and coffee) are another matter, however, though I definitely wouldn't do chocolate with a madeira (total waste of the madeira) nor maybe even a marsala. Banyuls and some ports, yes. For me it's the higher levels of both alcohol and retained sugar in the wines that make a match possible.

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 30, 2011.

Totally agree, Dmcker.  When I try chocolate with unfortified wines, I get a bitterness that makes me think of what arsenic would taste like!

That said, a very high quality dark chocolate with one of my fave tawnys, Grant Burge 20yr Tawny port can be very highly enjoyable :-)

Reply by GregT, Oct 1, 2011.

Agreed - both D and napagirl.  For chocolate, I think tawneys are better than vintage ports.  Sweeter sherries work too.  Maybe the oxidized notes that give those wines the caramel hints are what works, plus, as D says, the higher sugar and alcohol.  One problem is that chocolate has a melting point at the normal human body temp so it goes thru a phase change in your mouth and releases all kinds of volatile compounds, while at the same time coating your mouth with the cocoa fat. Usually that combo hides any nuance in the wine and highlights the acid and makes the tannins harsh by comparison.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 1, 2011.

I went to a wine, cheese, and chocolate class/tasting a while back here in LA.

The wines were mostly uninteresting, but the flavors all seemed to blend pretty well. Maybe the cheese helped, but what was emphasized was the concentration of cocoa. Most american chocolate candy brands are reducing the amount of cocoa from their recipes to where there's almost none left.  

Anyway, it struck me as something to try and get people introduced to wine using cheese and chocolate as bait.  It can work, I have some Bissinger's chocolate covered wine grapes that go very well with most dry reds, but you only want to mess with chocolate pairings if you really love both wine and chocolate and want them to work together.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 2, 2011.

Now you're're talking about messing with cheese, too, Jon.  ;-) 

It's these kinds of statements from people who know the effects that good wines bring that make me think we all must have quite different physiologies behind our palates--for this is something separate from just those people who crave massiveattacks of sodapop-plus-other-overpowerings, which my body absolutely abhors.


Reply by JonDerry, Oct 2, 2011.

I try, Dm...and I know next to nothing about cheese.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 3, 2011.

I'm sure you do, and I was deferring to you as someone who knew what he was talking about when it comes to wine (as opposed to others who might just want to be overpowered). Thus I was saying that even if we can recognize similar odors and flavors, balances in our bodies then decide what we actually like to consume, and that's where commonality becomes less... common?

Wine and cheese, yes. Chocolate, yes. Wine and chocolate, no (except for the exceptions I tried to explain above). Wine and chocolate and cheese? Hell no!  ;-)

Reply by williamsimpson, Oct 3, 2011.

I was surprised by these recs as in my experience You need fortified wines to go with Dark Chocolate, if you must attempt a match at all.

I think the previous recommendation of a Grant Burge Tawny, or Australian Port equivalents, as made by some other winemakers to old recipes, would be a worthy experiment with high chance of success.

The best European matches for me are the sweet wines of Collioure, Banyuls and Maury from thw south westest corner of France. These drinks also double as surprisingly good aperitifs when served from the fridge.

Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 3, 2011.

Well apparently, I am in the minority on this one, because I really do love wine and chocolate, and I rarely pair my chocolate with fortified wine.  In fact, I have a glass of wine and a piece of good dark chocolate together at least three nights a week as my night cap. 

Reply by EMark, Oct 3, 2011.

You may be in the minority, SLH, but there are still a significant number of players that agree with you.  I'm one of them.  I have previously posted about a deliriously wonderful experience, last spring, that revolved around fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and zinfandel.

Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 3, 2011.

EMark, I think I'm going to go home and bake some chocolate chip cookies....

Reply by sklsocial, Oct 3, 2011.

Port & Chocolate, Wine & Cheese!  Sounds like a fabulous evening!

Reply by Chris Carpita, Oct 3, 2011.

Man, I shouldn't work late and read these kinds of threads. The cocoa krispies in the office kitchen won't provide an adequate substitute.  I've actually tried it - terrible!  But anyway, I'm with SLH on dark chocolate and non-port wines, they can and do work together.  As a general rule, if you enjoy the pairing, it's a good pairing.

Reply by mscranemscrane, Dec 29, 2011.

Hi, I own a magazine in Glasgow and enjoyed your topic wine and chocolate could you give me your authorisation to use this within the magazine.

If you send me your address can forward on a hard copy or you can pick this up next month on line.

Thanks alexandra blumenthal

Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

127503 Snooth User: rckr1951
21 posts
1464471 Snooth User: William Djubin
1464471William Djubin
10 posts
2197009 Snooth User: hotplaydollgmailcom
7 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network