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Guest post by Nicholas, digital marketing specialist for Jordan Winery
Wine and chocolate share a lot of similarities, with the main one being that they’re full of tannins!
In wine, tannins act as antioxidants that preserve the wine while giving it a somewhat bitter taste. The higher the tannins, the darker the wine in color, making it dryer in overall taste and feel.
With chocolate, the tannins live in the cacao fruit. This is why cacao fruit is so sour! It’s full of antioxidants!
There are several rules to pairing your wine, but pairing wine with chocolate is tricky. To help you through the challenge, I’ve put together this guide for you guys to follow when pairing wine with your favorite chocolate.
Milk chocolate is a crowd favorite and is one of the most used ingredients when baking.
It is made from one part chocolate (including cocoa butter) and one part cream. The fats in the cream and cocoa butter soften the tannins in the chocolate and make it easier to pair with wine.
Recommended Wine Pairing
Brachetto d’Acqui - this wine has a great flavor profile of strawberries, blackberries, and roses. Since the wine is so low in alcohol, the residual sugars really come through in the flavor, making it great for pairing with milk chocolate.
Ruby Port - this is a classic dessert wine from Portugal. Though the tannins are typically high in Port wines, Ruby Port is very sweet and compliments the milk chocolate desserts nicely.
Rutherglen Muscat - there’s no denying that this wine was made to be enjoyed with dessert. It’s one of the sweetest wines in the world! The residual sugars land between 110–200 grams per liter. That’s a lot for wine! The sweetness of the milk chocolate will compliment the wine and the flavors won’t clash.
Lambrusco di Sorbara - did you know sparkling red wines exist? Well, they do, and they’re perfect for milk chocolate. They’re rich in color but have a very light body with a flavor profile of strawberry and rhubarb.
Dark Chocolate is Renana’s favorite when baking. Not only is it delicious, but it’s low in sugar because of its high level of tannins.
Generally, dark chocolate contains at least 35% of cocoa solids. The intensity of tannins is what gives the chocolate its powerful source of antioxidants in addition to its bittersweet flavor.
Recommended Wine Pairing
Original Port - Port wines come in different styles, but the original Port wine has rich notes of cinnamon that really compliment dark chocolate in a great way.
Port Wines - generally, all Port-style wines such as Zinfandel, Petite Sirah Port, and Malbec make great pairs with dark chocolate! They all have a wide range of intensity that can pair well with a variety of chocolate combinations, such as cayenne or coffee chocolate.
Merlot - depending on how dark the chocolate is, this medium-bodied wine can be a great match. You definitely want the dark chocolate to be under 55% of cocoa so that it won’t alter the flavor of Malbec wine.
Remember that a high tannic wine and high tannic chocolate will clash, making your wine taste gross.
White chocolate is made with cocoa butter instead of the actual cacao fruit. This means it’s technically not “real” chocolate, but it does mean it’s smoother in flavor because there are no tannins.
Recommended Wine Pairing
Moscato d’Asti - this wine is a sweet and fruity sparkling wine. It’s actually my favorite when it comes to desserts. The fizziness in the wine makes eating white chocolate all the creamier.
Ice Wine - this wine is really interesting as it’s made with grapes that have frozen ON the vine. Ice Wine comes in different styles such as Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Vidal Blanc. Flavor profiles generally range from pineapple, lemon meringue, and candied oranges. Perfect for white chocolate pairing.
Rosé Port - this is another Port-style wine that pairs well with white chocolate. The chocolate carries the wine’s flavor profile nicely and really highlights the notes of tropical fruits when you pair the two together.
Pinot Noir - this red wine pairing is perfect! Remember how fats cut through tannins? White chocolate is full of fats from the cocoa butter, cream, and milk which makes the Pinot Noir smoother to taste in a way that highlights the flavor profile of the wine.
Chocolate Recipe and Wine Pairing
Chocolate is an overall ingredient used in decadent dessert recipes and there are various chocolate desserts that go with red wine. Some of which are found on this site! Here are my suggested wines you can pair with a few recipes from Renana’s Kitchen.
Brownies & Marsala wine. Marsala is known as a cooking wine but has a flavor profile of vanilla and brown sugar that enhance the flavors of these soft brownies.
Chocolate Chip Cookies & Tawny Port. This Port wine is aged with oxidation, giving it a caramelized character. The flavors and texture of the chocolate chip cookie will bring out all those flavor notes in the wine.
Chocolate Cupcakes & Sparkling Wine. Sparkling wine like Moscato d’Asti or Champagne will bring out the fruitiness of the strawberry and coconut used in this recipe. So good!
Chocolate Tarts & Ice Wine. These tarts are awesome for Ice Wine. The white chocolate tart with a Riesling would be a great match given how much fat goes into baking this sweet treat. The balance would be excellent!
Exception #1: Residual Sugars Will Help Pair Your Wine
FUN FACT: Residual Sugars (RS) is the sugar that’s left over from the fermentation process where yeast turns sugar into alcohol. Dry wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, don’t tend to have a lot of sugar, but they do have a higher alcohol level. The opposite is true regarding sweet wines like Moscato.
Red wines with more Residual Sugars (RS) pair well with dark chocolate because the sugars in the wine offset the natural bitterness in dark chocolate.
If you want to pair your dry wine with dark chocolate, look for wine with residual sugars. Wines like Shiraz, Malbec, and Zinfandel will display a profile of approximately 10 - 60 grams per liter of residual sugars.
Exception #2: Fats Counteract the Tannins
When you bake chocolate into recipes that call for more fats like butter, milk, and cream, it cuts through the tannins in the chocolate you bake with. By softening the tannins in the chocolate it allows more flexibility when wine pairing because the flavors won’t be clashing.
Nicholas is a digital marketing specialist for Jordan Winery - a California Wine company that specializes in producing high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Champagne, and other delicious products. Currently, his wine of choice is Syrah.