How to pair wine with chocolate

If you know how to pair the right kind of chocolate with the right kind of wine, thus enhancing the flavors of both, you know that this combination is deliciously perfect. And if you think nothing is more decadent than a fantastic chocolate dessert, we think you’ll find these chocolate treats taste even better when paired with a good glass of wine.

To make sure you pair these two favorites in a way that benefits both, we have five tips to help you pair wine with chocolate.

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Corresponding intensities

Chocolate has a natural bitterness. The darker the chocolate, the more bitter it is due to the high concentration of cocoa and lower levels of sweetness. When choosing chocolates to pair with wine, keep in mind that any chocolate over 80% cocoa will have a bitter taste that will clash with the wine. Instead, opt for a chewier chocolate, such as milk chocolate or even white chocolate, to enjoy with your vino. White chocolate does not contain cocoa solids; instead, it’s made with cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and sometimes vanilla, leaving the color pale and the flavor smooth and creamy.

Choose the right wine

Choosing a low tannic wine is essential because of the natural bitterness of chocolate. Tannin-rich wines will clash with darker chocolates because the tannins emphasize bitterness, making the pairing unappetizing. In wine, tannins are the astringent, bitter compounds that dry out your mouth when you take a sip. They are usually found in great red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Barolo. When pairing wine with chocolate, substitute your Cabernet, a high-tannin wine, for a low-tannin wine like Pinot Noir or Valpolicella Ripasso. You can also opt for a white wine or a sweet wine which contains less tannins and which will not compete with the bitterness of chocolate.

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Pair milk chocolate with wine

This is your safest bet when you want to take advantage of a deal. Its higher milk and sugar content and lower cocoa content make it more likely to pair well with your drink of choice. We recommend pairing a medium-bodied red like a California or Australian pinot noir. Both regions are warmer and their wines have lovely flavors of ripe fruit that will pair beautifully with this medium-intensity chocolate.

Pair white chocolate with wine

White chocolate is the creamiest and fluffiest of the chocolate choices. Pair it with a fun, bubbly drink like prosecco or opt for a sweeter rosé like a pink moscato or sangiovese rosé. Another fun pairing is white chocolate and your favorite dessert wine, which is sweeter than your typical dinner wine and bursting with dried fruit flavors like apricot and nectarine. The intense flavor of a dessert wine pairs perfectly with the mild flavor profile of white chocolate.

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Pair dark chocolate with wine

Dark chocolate is the healthiest for you, but it’s also the hardest to pair with wine. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa is used; with this cocoa comes an inherent bitterness. If you opt for dark chocolate, we recommend that you stay below 80% cocoa. Darker than that and the bitterness is not pleasant, especially when heightened by wine. To find a good wine to pair with your dark chocolate, it’s important to remember that big flavors pair best with big flavors. Try pairing your bold dark chocolate with a full-bodied red like a warm climate merlot, zinfandel, or Valpolicella Ripasso. These wines have decadent fruit and lower tannin, matching the intensity of your chocolate flavor without adding to the bitter flavor.

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