Finding the perfect wine and chocolate match
Contrary to popular belief, pairing wine and chocolate can work just as well as pairing with meat or cheese. And, with Easter just around the corner, what better time to stock up on some choco-friendly wines?
OK, so pairing wine and chocolate can pose a bit of a challenge. BUT – when you do try out one of the matches below, you’ll thank us for it. Trust us. We’ve done EXTENSIVE research on this one. 🙂
Why’s pairing wine and chocolate so hard?
Mainly because of something called flavanols, which sound very technical and not very much fun to read about. So, we’ll keep it simple: they’re a type of tannin. Those are the bitter elements found in wine (and also in fruit skins, roots and – importantly – chocolate). They give you a ‘mouth-drying’ sensation, and almost make your gums feel a bit fuzzy.
When you eat wine with chocolate, it can cause a bit of a tannin overload, which equals a LOT of bitter flavours. And no-one likes that, do they?
So, just avoid the tannins when pairing wine and chocolate, then?
Kind of. The drier the wine, the more bitter the chocolate will taste – and you just don’t want to do that to yourself. So, it’s almost better to think about it this way. Lighter chocolate go with lighter wines, darker chocolate with heavier wines. It’s all about balance.
Obviously, some SUPER bitter chocolate is probably best left off the menu – it’s going to be very hard to find anything that tastes semi-decent with it. We’re talking anything over 72% – save that for matching up with a mug of tea instead.
Our top matches…
Lighter style reds like Pinot Noir are always a safe bet for milk chocolate. Their high acid levels will contrast the richness of the chocolate. You want a chocolate that’s a bit creamy, too – so it doesn’t overpower the lighter wine. Give the Black Estate Pinot Noir a go. There’ll be heaps of red berries and wild forest fruits in this one – it’s light, playful, and really quite something.
Although, if you DO want to try something a bit unusual, word on the street is that an off-dry or medium Riesling would also do the trick. The more tropical, honeyed flavours compliment milk chocolate’s creaminess. And, because they’re both sweeter, they don’t overpower each other either.
You could match a white chocolate up with a Sauvignon Blanc, like the Gabrielskloof Sauvignon Blanc. The fresh lemongrass and citrus notes of a SB will be particularly enhanced by vanilla notes in the chocolate!
Or, have at it with a white chocolate and Jansz Cuvee pairing. Again, those citrus undertones in the wine will be brought into the spotlight. They also help cut through the sweet creaminess of the buttery white chocolate.
We’d probably go for a bigger red with this one. Look for something with deep, dark winter fruits, and some savoury notes. You want it to be able to hold its own against the dark, bitter chocolate!
OK, so Pinot Noir’s not generally seen as ‘big’ – but we’d recommend the Neudorf Tom’s Block here. It’s got all the above, WITH extra dark plum and clove. Plus, it’s bloody delicious. Mmm.