Don’t Judge Me Mondays: Chocolate & Wine Pairings
Well, we’re nearing the end of October and celebrating all things chocolate! I knew I couldn’t say goodbye to this month without a post about chocolate and wine (two of my greatest loves, he he!). I love dark chocolate and have found it pairs well with red wine, but I wanted to find out more. I contacted someone at Chateau Ste. Michelle to provide more insight and the concierge team had some great suggestions. I’ve provided three broad categories of chocolate and wine types to go with them.
So here we go!
Pure chocolate- Foods in this category include chocolate-dipped fruit, fondue, truffles or piece of chocolate on its own
Pair with a sweet fruity wine. The best options are an ice wine, also called a late harvest wine. I used a Chardonnay ice wine we have, but I know Chateau Ste. Michelle has a lovely ice Riesling (Eroica Riesling Ice Wine). Moscato D’Asti is another great option that is slightly bubbly. Both the ice wines and Moscato should be serve chilled. Since ice wine is so sweet, the serving size is typically a smaller pour so you’ll want to use a smaller glass. Moscato can be served like any other white wine.
The luscious and sweet ice wine really does work! It’s a little thicker than a regular wine and that has a nice mouth feel in between bites of chocolate. An ice wine will work with both milk and dark chocolate but in different ways. The creaminess of the milk chocolate is enhanced by the ice wine, while the dark chocolate has its deep chocolate flavor enhanced.
Rich chocolate treats- Fudg-y brownies, chewy chocolate chip cookies or rich chocolate ice cream
Port is the best pairing with this chocolate category. It has a deep and rich sweetness that can stand up to the rich chocolate flavor in these items. I found this Evenus Port at Trader Joe’s and it was delicious! Because it’s sweet Port should also be served in a smaller glass (at room temp.). I actually used the free glass I got from Kirkland Uncorked a few years ago.
Port has a lovely dried fruit flavor with undertones of spice that pairs brings out the chocolate flavor in a rich chocolatey ice cream or cookie. Port isn’t as thick as an ice wine so it cuts some of the richness of a chewy chocolate chip cookie or other chewy chocolate dessert.
Fluffy chocolate cake and savory chocolate foods (like Mole)
This pairing might be a bit unexpected. A fluffy chocolate cake, light mousse or something savory with chocolate flavors should be paired with wines considered “jammy”. This usually describes red wines like Merlot or Syrah. I chose the “3 buck Chuck” Shiraz from Trader Joe’s but there are tons of great options out there! Chateau Ste. Michelle has an Indian Wells Merlot blend and also a Columbia Valley Syrah. If you could find a red blend with both of these wines in it, that would be a great choice too! Ok, I learned something that I should share with you guys that I’m not sure I realized until now- Syrah and Shiraz are the same thing. Both wines are from the same grape and really have more to do with where the wine came from. Syrah tends to be the French pronunciation and Shiraz is the Australian, so there you go. Some of you may have known this already but it totally blew my mind. ;). I’ll call it Syrah from here on out for this post.
Syrah tends to be darker than Cabernet Sauvignon but often has a lighter taste to it. It has a lovely berry flavor, which is why it’s often described as “jammy”. Merlot is a bit lighter in quality. While it still has that “jammy” undertone, I have had a harder time finding one that I like. In my experience Merlot can be more tannin-y than Syrah so just ask at the store for suggestions for choosing one, unless you have one you already enjoy.
These wines pair well with a lighter chocolate dessert because they really highlight the chocolate flavor without overpowering it. A sweeter wine would be more likely to hide the chocolate, so it no longer felt like a pairing. Being less sweet is also why these are great choices for pairing with something like Mole that’s savory but still has chocolate elements.
So there you have it! If you haven’t paired chocolate with wines before I definitely recommend it! This would be a fun thing to do with friends. You can easily find some inexpensive options for wine and could even have everyone bring their favorite chocolate and make a night of it!
If you already have a favorite chocolate and wine pairing, let me know what it is in the comments!