3 things you need to think about when pairing wine with chocolate
Chocolate is supposed to be impossible to match with wine but like any other ingredient it depends on the chocolate and how it’s used.
In general I’d discourage you from serving a lighter dessert wines like Sauternes but if the chocolate flavour is not too intense and some kind of fresh fruit (strawberries or passionfruit, say) is involved it should be fine.
If you’re trying to find a wine pairing for chocolate it helps to ask yourself these three questions. (The answer may not necessarily be wine!)
What kind of chocolate?
Are you trying to match milk chocolate or dark chocolate or even white chocolate though some would argue that isn’t really chocolate at all? The lighter the chocolate - and the airier your dessert - the easier your task is. See these suggestions for chocolate mousse for example. With a chilled chocolate soufflé you could even serve a glass of bubbly, rosé champagne or sparkling wine for preference.
What are you serving with it?
Think of the fruits that match with chocolate and it’ll give you a clue as to which wines - and other drinks - work too. Cherries are great with dark chocolate for instance and would make a sweet red dessert wine like a Maury or a late bottled vintage port a good match (or a cherry beer or liqueur).
Orange and chocolate? A well-tried and tested combination. An orange-flavoured moscatel or marmaladey Tokaji will echo those flavours . Dried fruit like raisins and figs pair with chocolate too as does a figgy, raisiny sweet sherry or madeira while a chocolate dessert with nuts is a great match for a tawny port or amaretto.
(See this post on the best matches for a chocolate yule log which vary depending on the filling.)
Is it hot or cold?
A cold chocolate dessert is easier to match than a hot one, the trickiest being a molten chocolate fondant pudding. Serving it with cream or ice-cream will help but you’re still better to choose a fortified like a liqueur muscat rather a conventional dessert wine (PX sherry, I've discovered, is insanely good with warm chocolate brownies and ice cream.) Oddly enough a dark beer like a porter or imperial stout is particularly good with molten chocolate puds as you can see from this post.
Image © al62 - Fotolia.com
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