Written by Chrissie Bettencourt from Awaken Your Senses
Wine with chocolate: The rich, velvety smoothness of chocolate combined with the depth and sensuality of wine produces a wine and food pairing that transports you to a new level of being and awareness. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?
Different types of sensory experiences are evoked when pairing chocolate with wine. The three important are:
1) Complete fusion and integration of flavors and textures: This happens when the flavors completely marry together, creating a new and integrated flavor in your mouth. This is pure tasting bliss and is what transports you into a state of euphoria. You can’t get a more optimal pairing than that.
2) Complementary Pairing: This is when you can taste the flavors of each one, and they complement each other beautifully, but remain separate in your mouth. There is no fusion, just a happy state of being together.
3) Contrast Pairing: This one is rather fascinating in that the flavors are having something akin to a Mexican stand off in your mouth, but then make a truce and shake hands. There is an explosion of flavors, one coming out followed by another, fighting with each other to stand at the front and shine. But then all of a sudden they come together and mellow down creating a smooth and lovely finish.
Some of the best wines for pairing with chocolate come from Argentina. The wines are generally fruitier yet well structured which pair perfectly with the richness of the chocolate. Here are my top 5 favorite pairings:
1) Mayoral Malbec Reserva 2006 from the winery Hacienda del Plata paired with a dark 70% chocolate truffle. This pairing falls into the category of pure bliss. Notes of dried cherry and the smooth, unctuous texture of the chocolate marry perfectly with elegant fruit notes and well balanced oak in this wine. General Chocolate Pairing: 70% chocolate with fruity base notes
2) Judas Reserva Blend 2006 by the winery Sottano paired with a black pepper and fennel dark chocolate truffle (70% cacao). This is a complementary pairing where the black pepper and the fennel bring out the spiciness and the anise in this wine and the flavours harmonize together leaving you with a smooth and mellow finish. General Pairing: 60-70% chocolate with spicier base notes.
3) Gran Assemblage Reserva 2003 by Carmelo Patti paired with a dark 70% chocolate tart infused with black pepper and topped with a sprinkling of Roquefort cheese . This is a pairing that will send you shooting straight into the stars without any desire to come back down! A pure fusion of flavours in your mouth that integrates the wine and the chocolate perfectly leaving you with spicy harmony throughout the mouth and the finish. General Pairing: a 60% dark milk chocolate or 60% dark chocolate
4) Domaine San Diego Brut Xero Espumante white chocolate. This is another pure fusion pairing that will tempt you to finish the bottle all by yourself. The creaminess and just slight hint of sweetness pair perfectly making the wine more unctuous and highlighting its fruitiness. General Pairing: a good quality white chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa butter solids than sugar or a creamy high quality milk chocolate
5) Urban Uco Tempranillo 2008 from O’Fournier paried with an 80% Venezuelan dark chocolate from Fenix and a hint of chopped fresh basil. This is a fantastic complementary pairing where the fruits in both the wine and chocolate come out and completely eliminating any acidity or bitterness. It leaves you with a lovely clean and fresh finish. General Pairing: 75-80% chocolate with fruity base notes.
The best thing about chocolate and wine pairing is that the more you experiment the more delicious experiences you will come across. Although there are some general guidelines regarding pairings, I would recommend throwing them to the wind and just have some fun. Choose one of your favorite wines and select some chocolate varying in flavors and cacao %. Then let your taste buds and imagination take you on an unforgettable tasting adventure.
If you have any comments or questions about wine and chocolate parings, please feel free to post. We’d like to hear from you.