Wine and chocolate: the perfect pairing?

Although its tempting to combine two or more things we love, together they do not always make sense. For example, no matter how much you love fish and cheese, combining them is not recommended. Does the same apply to chocolate and wine? Fortunately, it does not. But there are a couple of things you need to know.

Wine and chocolate both contain tannins

The main reason that typically wine and chocolate do not mix is because the tannins in both wine and chocolate clash. For chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the higher the level of tannins, and so a tannin-heavy red wine and a dark-chocolate bonbon do not mix well.

If your chocolate is sweet, choose an even sweeter wine

Milk chocolate and especially white chocolate are sweeter than dark-brown chocolate. To match with sweet types of chocolate, choose a wine that is fruity and sweet as opposed to bitter and dry. Examples are port, Madeira and a sweet sherry.

If you prefer the healthier dark chocolate, choose a fruity low-tannin red wine

Dark chocolate is more bitter in taste and gives a more intense flavour. The higher the level of chocolate, the more bitter it will taste. The dark chocolate also provides the greatest health benefits with the highest concentration of flavanols. For this type of chocolate, you can get away with a less sweet red wine. Instead, pick one that is fruity and low in tannins such as warm climate Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Syrah.

Find a moment in the day to exclusively dedicate to chocolate and wine

Don’t leave the chocolate and wine tasting for the dessert after dinner, as you will most likely already have drank wine and your pallet is full of other flavours from dinner. Rather, to adequately judge whether chocolate and wine combines well for you, find a moment in the late afternoon to just focus on that: wine and chocolate served together.

Red wine and chocolate are both aphrodisiacs

This can be either a warning or an encouragement, depending on the company you are enjoying the chocolate and wine with. We just thought you should know.

Pair the wine with other flavours in your chocolate

If you opted for chocolate mixed with nuts, caramel or fruit, take those flavours into account when selecting your wine. You can have a dark-chocolate bonbon, but if the filling is sweet as caramel, the recommendation is to match with an even sweeter wine. If you have chocolate with peanuts, then it would pair well with a Banyuls, a sort of classic for mixing with chocolate in general but particularly suited here as it complements the peanut-flavour with a spicy strawberry flavour.

Keep an open mind

Although the above are meant to be guidelines that provide a starting point, the most important is to keep an open mind and to experiment to find out what works for you. Taste from light to dark chocolate and similarly go from sweeter to more fruity, low-tannin red wines.