Wine and Chocolate

It's almost Valentines Day, and you know what that means? .....You'll be paying a fortune for roses.

But, if chocolate is part of your gift giving, why not pair that with a nice bottle of wine?

Wine and chocolate seem as if they were meant for each other. But not all wine, or chocolate, are made equally for this pairing. Let's first take a look at chocolate, then a quick look at our pairing "fundamentals", followed by some suggested wine to go along with your chocolate.

Just like coffee, chocolate is the processed result of a bean. The cocoa bean is roasted and ground into a mix of solids (cocoa solids) and liquid (cocoa liquor). The cocoa liquor can further be processed into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The style of chocolate is determined by the percentage of solids, liquor, fat and sugar. For example, bitter (or unsweetened) chocolate is pure cocoa liquor. Moving down the scale of bitter to sweet, we have dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate (which includes milk solids in addition to sugar, fat and cocoa solids). Then there is white chocolate, which is made without any cocoa solids (only cocoa butter, sugar and milk).

Chocolate has a natural affinity to pair with certain foods. Think about the last candy bar you had, or chocolate dipped fruit. What comes to mind? Almonds, caramel, cherries, raspberries, coffee are just a few that I think of, and as it turns out, many wines have these same aromas.

While a lot of red wines have chocolate aromas, they tend to be dry, tannic wines. Remember one of our pairing "rules"...make sure your wine is sweeter than your dessert, or else the wine will taste flat. For this reason, bittersweet chocolate works best with wine. That doesn't mean we can't pair with milk chocolate, it's just a little more limited in our choices. Remember to match lighter, more elegant chocolates with lighter-bodied wines and stronger chocolate with more full-bodied wines. Here are some of my suggestions, based on the aromas, and sweetness of the wine. Most of these are going to be dessert or fortified wines.

Banyuls - a sweet fortified wine from Southwest France with flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, blackberries, and dried fruit (depending on the age).
Malaga - a sweet fortified wine made from a blend of Pedro Jimenez and Moscatel grapes, with pronounced grape tastes.
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise - A lighter style of sweet fortified wine, with an aromas of rose petals, tropical fruit, candied oranges. Try [pairing with milk chocolate or white chocolate
10-year old Tawny Port -a sweet fortified red wine with ripe, rich fruit and nuttiness.Older versions of Tawny Port will lose their ripe fruit stay with a younger wine, or even a Ruby Port.
Brachetto d'Acqui - a sweet, semi-sparkling red wine with floral and fruit aromas (one of my personal  favorites with chocolate). Look for it in the Italian section of your favorite wine store.
Demi-sec Rose Sparkling wine - Nuances of strawberries, and raspberries, and palate cleansing bubbles
Madiera (Bual or Malmsey) - Dark colored "cooked" wine with toffee, caramel, and nut aroma.
PX Sherry - A sweet Sherry, that is usually dark brown in color, with flavors of caramel,  fig and coffee.
Cabernet Sauvignon (fruitier versions) - with dark/bittersweet chocolate
Zinfandel (fruity or late harvest) - with dark/bittersweet chocolate
Orange Muscat - a sweet wine it, you guessed it, orange aromas. Serve with white chocolate.

In addition to wine, many would argue that coffee and beer might be the best match. Try a Brown Ale, or Stout. If you are really adventurous, try Framboise (a lambic beer made with raspberries). Whatever you decide, make sure you share your wine and chocolate with the people (or person) you love, and make this Valentine's Day, and day to remember.


  1. This would be a great gift for the wine lover who has everything. Thanks for the great post.

  2. simplyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy WOW am gonna dip my chocolates in wine and have the wine and savor the chocolate at the end hhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmm sounds dreamily divine

  3. I am a Vintner and I love my wine and chocolate!!!

  4. Great post! I love you blog, keep up the good work!

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