Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away and there’s no better way to celebrate than opening up a box of delicious chocolates. But perhaps you ask yourself, what wine should I pair with them? Wine and chocolate can be a tricky combination. Both red wine and chocolate contain a fair amount of something called ‘Tannins.’ Tannins are what gives red wine or dark chocolate a grippy or mouth drying sensation. For example, a highly Tannic, dry, red wine with a dark chocolate truffle, might not be the best pairing. But of course, that’s who you ask! Some people love nothing more than a big bold Napa Cab with Dark Chocolate and that’s perfectly fine.
White Chocolate: Although technically not chocolate at all, white chocolate is cocoa butter which has been mixed with dairy and sugar. Which is delicious because who doesn’t love fat and sugar, right? I’ve found that pairing white chocolate with a Sauternes, Royal Tokaji, or Ice Wine is a religious experience. Sweet wines usually have a fair amount of acid (usually high acid) to balance their own sweetness levels. When you pair these wines with white chocolate, the nuances of honey, tea, and citrus really come through from the wine. Now you can have your dessert and drink it, too.
Milk Chocolate: Nothing is more Valentine’s than those little red tin foil wrapped chocolate hearts, right? I was surprised to know that 51% of people prefer Milk Chocolate over all other types, according to a study by Mintel (2013). Milk chocolate is tricky to pair wine with. You have sugar, fat, and tannins existing at the same time. All these qualities affect your palate. After much (fun) experimentation, I have found that New World Merlots and Zinfandels work pretty well with milk chocolate! Both of these wines are fruit forward and can even be jammy. When choosing a wine, I’d say go with a budget pick, they tend to have more up front fruit.
Dark Chocolate: Favored among the health conscious for it’s popularity as a superfood, dark chocolate boasts cancer fighting and heart healthy flavonoids. Coincidentally, red wine is also touted as having the same benefits. You might be tempted to pair the two together for a double punch against cancer! However, I would caution against that. As stated previously, both red wines and chocolate contain a fair amount of tannins. When combined, this mouth drying sensation can be too overwhelming for some. I enjoy dark chocolate with a Pinot noir based sparkling rosé, like a cremant d’Alsace. The red fruit and effervescent bubbles pair nicely with the tannic dark chocolate. Another option to consider is a Ruby Port. The sweetness combined with the mouth drying dark chocolate is a winning combination.
Whatever you end up enjoying this Valentine’s Day make sure it’s something that you actually like! I’ve made some recommendations, however if they don’t float your fancy then enjoy chocolate your way. If you like Barolo and peanut butter cups, knock yourself out. Sauvignon Blanc and chili chocolate, go for it. Want to experiment a little? I absolutely think you should. Wine should be fun, enjoyable, and accessible. You don’t have to be a wine expert in order to enjoy wine. Once you get that thought out of your head, for some reason wine tastes slightly better, not sure why…. 🤔
Love you, mean it, have a Happy Valentines Day.