World Chocolate Day
Wine and chocolate; a match made in gastronomic heaven and two of life's great culinary joys. Combining these two indulgent treats can elevate your sensory experience to new heights if you know what types of wine and chocolate to pair together. Whether you prefer the silky sweetness of milk chocolate, the delicate buttery qualities of white chocolate, or the intense richness of dark chocolate, there is a wine style that will complement it perfectly. So, sit back, uncork a bottle, and prepare to embark on a delectable journey of wine and chocolate harmonies.
Pairing Wine with
Best for: Mild reds and sweet whites
Milk chocolate's smooth, creamy texture can easily be overwhelmed by intense wines - whether it's high-tannin red wines or notably dry, acidic white wines. Instead, its qualities make it a fantastic match for fruit-forward red wines with lower tannins or sweet, floral white wines.
Lighter-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir create a delightful contrast with milk chocolate thanks to their silky tannins, while the ripe cherry and red berry notes of wine like a fine Pinot Noir harmonize beautifully with the chocolate's sweetness, resulting in a delectable pairing. Likewise, the soft tannins and notes of plum, blackberry, and cocoa in many Merlot wines complement milk chocolate's creamy and sweet nature. Other fruity, low to medium-bodied red wines you may consider sipping alongside your milk chocolate include Grenache/Garnacha, Beaujolais, Dolcetto, and Valpolicella.
If you're more of a fan of white wine, consider selecting a sweet white wine such as Gewürztraminer or one of the many sweeter Riesling wine options. These white wines can offer an element of sweetness to harmonize with the chocolate's qualities, while their fruity, floral notes pleasantly contrast the chocolate's sweetness.
Finally, if you're looking for a type of chocolate to enjoy alongside wine after your meal, you're in luck with milk chocolate! Milk chocolate's love for sweet wine pairings makes it an excellent option to enjoy alongside dessert wines, such as various Muscat varieties, while Port can also be a surprise match for milk chocolate. Port's rich and sweet characteristics, hints of dark fruits, and (on occasion) nuttiness create a luxurious, balanced pairing that enhances the velvety qualities of your milk chocolate.
Pairing Wine with
Best for: Light, dry white wines and sweeter white wines
We know - white chocolate technically isn't chocolate, but it will always be chocolate in spirit! Known for its buttery, rich texture and pronounced sweetness, white chocolate pairs well with vibrant, fruity white wines possessing a touch of acidity. While milk chocolate's mild, creamy sweetness can clash with white wines with a light, acidic complexion, white chocolate's richer characteristics allow it to contrast refreshingly with dry white wines.
A crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc showcases its zesty citrus notes, which can harmonize with the sweetness of white chocolate. Meanwhile, the wine's bright acidity counterbalances the richness of the chocolate, creating a delightful interplay of flavors while preventing your white chocolate from becoming overly cloying on the palate. Other dry, light white wines that can harmonize with white chocolate's sweetness with their fruit flavors and cut through the chocolate's richness with their acidity include Chenin Blanc, Viognier, and Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, to name just a few.
If you prefer sweeter white wines, they can work just as well alongside your white chocolate for different reasons. Like with milk chocolate, sweeter white wines such as late harvest Rieslings, Gewürztraminer, and Moscato d'Asti work in tandem with white chocolate's sweetness, harmonizing with the chocolate's flavors rather than contrasting with them.
Pairing Wine with
Best for: Full-bodied red wines.
One for sophisticated chocolate lovers. With its intense, bittersweet profile, dark chocolate demands a dance partner with depth, structure, and bold flavors. Full-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, offer a perfect match. With its robust tannins, dark fruit flavors, and hints of spice, Cabernet Sauvignon complements the richness and complexity of dark chocolate while also helping to bring out some of the chocolate's subtle spiced qualities. Some other full-bodied red wines with the depth and structure to sip alongside the intense flavors of dark chocolate include Malbec, Zinfandel, and Syrah/Shiraz.
Of course, not everyone only enjoys the standard milk, white, and dark chocolate options - there are a wealth of specialty chocolates out there that throw a little something extra into the mix. If you're seeking to venture beyond the classic milk, white, and dark chocolates, here are some wine styles that pair well with specialty chocolates:
Remember, this list is not exhaustive and ultimately, the most important factor in any wine and food pairing is that you enjoy it. Exploring the art of wine and chocolate pairings opens up a world of sensory delights that can take two already incredible luxuries and make them even more enjoyable. From lower tannin red wines elevating the sweetness of milk chocolate to vibrant whites enhancing the delicacy of white chocolate, and bold reds accentuating the richness of dark chocolate, there are so many opportunities to explore. So, grab a bottle of your favorite wine, break off a row or two of your favorite chocolate bar, and embark on a blissful journey of flavor exploration.