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January 21, 2018
Valentine's Day is such a special time of year, a time when we take a break from our over-filled days and nights and take a day or weekend with our special someone and go out to dinner or escape for a romantic weekend. Champagne or wine and chocolate always seem to be a big part of everyone's Valentine's celebration but there isn't a lot known about the pairing of the two to make it a pleasurable experience.
As a high-end chocolate boutique, we are frequently asked what is the best chocolate to go with different wines. This is what we have discovered.
When looking to pair chocolate with wine be it dark chocolate (50% or greater cocoa solid), milk chocolate (higher sugar content and up to 40% cocoa solid), or lastly white chocolate (cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids), not technically a true chocolate, here is what you should be looking for in your wine; Sweetness. That is correct, it is advisable to pair chocolate with sweet wines, Ports, Muscat’s, Shiraz or Syrah.
When sampling dark chocolate, the wine should be very sweet, dark, rich and smooth, either a fortified or low tannin wine.
Milk chocolate, because of the higher percentage of sugar, the best pairing is with a lighter version of a similar wine that would be used for dark chocolate. This wine should also be very sweet.
Because white chocolate is very sweet, the best pairing would be with a dessert wine.
When you select your wine, go with the fruitier reds with less-high alcohol content.
The recommendation is to stay away from dry red wines and champagne. The high level of tannin in dry red wines is very strong and somewhat bitter which over powers the sweet taste of chocolate. It is very tricky to pair chocolate with champagne. Champagne is too acidic to be paired with chocolate. Anyway, I am a purist when it comes to champagne, so I prefer to just have a glass with no accompaniment.
The best chocolates to pair with wines would be the traditional truffle. When it comes to pairing with wine, they line up to the darkest of red wines to the lightest of white wines. Some good choices for chocolate truffles would be, the Classic, Cognac or Strong Dark truffle is excellent with dark red wines. For medium-bodied wines, you would enjoy the Tiramisu or Cappuccino truffle and for the dessert wine, the Champagne truffle would be the perfect match. All truffles listed above are Neuhaus Belgian chocolates and can be procured on this website.
In the end, the pairing of wines and chocolates are a personal preference and I strongly recommend that you buy some wine, buy some chocolates and have a wine and pairing party and give our chocolates a try along with your favorite wines. One can always try a high-tannin red wine with chocolate, however, you will need to select a high-tannin chocolate, 85% or higher.
If you happen to be visiting wineries over the weekend before Valentine's Day, we will be participating in a wine and chocolate pairing event at Wilderness Run Vineyards in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Stop by and see what your tastes buds tell you about their wine and our chocolates.
I will leave you with this, the wine should always be slightly sweeter than the chocolate or dessert that you are pairing it with.
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