Chocolate! If you don’t love it, you may need to check your pulse. We eat it plain, drizzle it, dip it, drink it, manipulate it into art, and add it to savory sauces. Who would imagine that chocolate could be such a difficult food to pair with wine? Perhaps it’s the wide variety of types and qualities that create the challenge for Sommeliers; but one thing is certain: experimenting is key to that perfect pairing.
The easiest chocolate to match with wine is milk chocolate. It can be paired with a nutty port whose complexity will cut the richness while bringing out other subtleties and spices of the chocolate often unnoticed when eaten alone. Two Texas ports of acclaim are Bernhardt Winery’s Tawny Port Reserve, Award Winner in 2011; and Torre di Pietra’s Tango Port.
Dark chocolate, with its slightly bitter overtone becomes alive when paired with a rich, full bodied red wine such as Flat Creek Estate’s Super Texan Sangiovese. The fruits and floral notes emerge nicely from the cancellation of tannins. You should try several different levels of dark chocolate, as these can be the most complex, allowing the discovery of flavors to become the real treasure.
Delicate and sweet, white chocolate is the most difficult to pair successfully. Light Muscats are perfect for toning down the sweetness and accentuating the butter creaminess that a fine white chocolate in best known for. Orange Muscats, such as those made by Duchman Family Winery and Cap Rock Winery, make for a very successful pairing with white chocolate.
While the quality of chocolate is very important, pairing it correctly with wines is what makes the tasting experience so memorable. Everyone has a different palette and preference, so the broader the tasting, the more likely you are to find a great match. This Valentine’s Day, if you plan on treating someone special to a romantic evening, you may want to hold your own personal tasting to find your perfect combination of Texas wine and chocolate over the course of the evening!
Photos from Wiseman House Chocolates