Wine is good. Chocolate is good. Together they can be mind-bending.
At NaKeD chocolate, we’re often asked which wines pair well with our chocolates. To answer this fully, we’ve created the following guide to lead you on your way to sweet perfection.
Although your palate should be your guide in all matters, there are two golden rules for harmonious wine and chocolate pairings.
1. The wine should be at least as sweet as the chocolate. If the chocolate is considerably sweeter, the wine will taste sour by comparison. Dark chocolate, because it has a lower sugar content, pairs more easily to a wider array of wines than milk or white chocolate. Two main factors contribute to the perceived sweetness of the wine: first, the varietal, or the kind of grape from which the wine is made, and secondly, the alcohol content – fortified wines (often at 17% alcohol or more) are much sweeter than standard wines.
Helpful Hint: For all products available at the LCBO, there is a ‘Sweetness Descriptor’ on the information label. This identifies the sweetness of the wine with the following codes: XD – extra dry, D – dry, M – medium, MS – medium sweet and S – sweet. This will help in your selection.
2. The chocolate and wine should be of similar intensities. A bold, robust wine (including the sweet, fortified wines) would overpower the delicate flavours of a white chocolate. Bold wines pair well with similarly bold chocolates, such as stronger milk and dark chocolates as well as most of our truffles and gourmet chocolate bars. Lighter wines complement the more subtle flavours of white chocolate, our truffles with fruity ganaches as well as soft caramels.
Although the idea of a classic dry champagne with NaKeD chocolate is undeniably romantic in theory, most champagnes and will seem sour on the tongue when coupled with chocolate. Sweeter white wines are better matches, such as a sweet or medium-sweet Reisling, Gewurtztraminer, and Muscat or semi-sparkling Moscato. Our white chocolate (Zephyr) is considerably lower in sugar than typical white chocolate, and will pair beautifully with these wines. Some will bring out the buttery notes of the chocolate while others complement its fruity sweetness. You may want also to try white chocolate with cream based liqueurs; they are very sweet, although some with stronger flavours may compete with the delicate, creamy notes of white chocolate.
Our milk chocolate has a higher cacao percentage than most (38.2%), giving it a fuller cocoa flavour. So, a white wine with robust flavour works well, like a Muscat, Moscato or Hungarian Tokaji. If you’d like something bolder, Madeira (a fortified wine) is a great choice and tawny port is also lovely. The combination of fortified wines with milk chocolate can be sublime – their flavours blend beautifully.
Because it has less sugar than the other chocolates, dark chocolate can pair with a wider variety of wines. That said, you can really make the intensity of dark chocolate sing with bolder wines, keeping in mind that the tannins in dry red wine can make them seem astringent (watch the labels – wines that are dry or extra dry are best with savoury foods).
When exploring our “Single Origins” collection, fortified wines are a stunning accompaniment. Try our dark chocolate also with zinfandels, ruby port, tawny port, sweet marsala, cognac, coffee and cream liqueurs, or sherry.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! We made an accidental discovery that ‘Mexique’, the fruitiest of our single origins chocolate, pairs beautifully with… Jack Daniels!
With that in mind, let your palate be your guide – explore and amaze yourself with the possible combinations!
Yet to come: How to conduct a wine and chocolate tasting.