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The zzysh® Guide to Pairing Wine and Chocolate

chocolate and red wine

Wine and chocolate. Chocolate and wine. Are there any other two items of food and drink which inspire so much joy and enthusiasm, or which bring such seductive pleasure? They’re foods and drinks which actually have a lot in common, despite the fact they aren’t nearly as often served together as they perhaps should be. Both wine and chocolate are the products of a fermented fruit, and each contains a similar level of tannins from which they get much of their character and distinction. Chocolate and wine also take up the same ‘palate space’ in the mouth, and the best examples have plenty of secondary and tertiary flavours, about which connoisseurs can talk at length.

 

These factors result in them often being more than suitable bedfellows, and yet pairing wine and chocolate can be a tricky business. Get it wrong, and you can end up with a cloying, over-sweet mess in the mouth, or a clash of sweetness and acidity which is far from pleasant. Get it right, however… and my goodness, you’re in for a treat that can transport you to new realms of sensory delight.

Check out the zzysh® guide to pairing wine and chocolate below, and discover some amazing combinations for yourself.

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White Chocolate and Wine

OK, we get it… white chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all, as it contains only the cocoa fat and not the cocoa. However, pedantry aside, it can be deliciously childlike treat, full of silkiness and softness, which is sure to bring a smile to any face.

White chocolate doesn’t contain any bitterness or spice. As a result, it’s one of the only types of chocolate which is best paired only with sweet and dessert wines. Try some simple white chocolate with one of the truly great botrytised dessert wines of the world – Royal Tokaji from Hungary, or Sauternes, for example – and allow those toasted nut and dark honey flavours to come forwards. Ice wines from Germany, Austria or New York State are also great pairings for white chocolate.

If you’re looking for a truly sensational combination, however, opt for a Rose Port with vanilla-flecked white chocolate: the result is like a strawberry cheesecake on the palate; absolutely irresistible! For a more forest fruit set of flavours, go for a vintage Ruby Port instead.

Milk Chocolate and Wine

Everybody loves milk chocolate – it’s by far the most popular form of the sweet stuff in the world, and its success comes from its versatility and range. Most people wouldn’t think to pair milk chocolates with any wine other than Champagne, which can be something of a mistake – the dryness and acidity of a good Champagne can clash quite unpleasantly with most milk chocolate in solid forms.

It’s always a better idea to pair wine with a milk chocolate truffle, rather than with a bar or block. The reason being that truffles are stuffed with chocolate ganache, which is made with added cream and fat. This gives the chocolate a texture and weight that allows it to combine more pleasantly with wines on the palate, leading to a more rewarding combination.

Try eating your milk chocolate alongside Sherry. This Spanish fortified wine is delicious at the best of times, and when combined with chocolate has a truly festive, timeless spiciness that really excites the tastebuds. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Montilla Moriles (a dessert wine from Cordoba, Spain), then you’re in for a treat – there’s probably no greater pairing for milk chocolate on the planet than that! Bright, fizzy bottles of pink Moscato (especially Australian Moscato) also work well with milk chocolate, as they have that cotton candy/strawberry cream hint about them that leads to some gorgeous results.

If you want to pair wine with milk chocolate cake, a more counter-intuitive approach is perhaps best. Interestingly, milk chocolate cake and Australian Shiraz is a tried and tested winner in the food and wine pairing world… it sounds a little strange, but give it a try – it really works!

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Dark Chocolate and Wine

Dark chocolate is the connoisseur’s choice – chocolate for people who take their chocolate seriously. While a chocolate only needs to contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, it’s increasingly common to see examples with 70% – 90% cocoa solid: real bittersweet, tannic treats which cement the comparison with wine when it comes to depth of flavour and complexity.

For milder dark chocolates, we recommend pairing them with bright, fruity red wines; Sangiovese, for example, or fruit-forward bottles such as South American Merlot or Carmenere. For the more intense and involving dark chocolates at the more bitter end of the scale, you’ll need a red wine which packs its own punch when it comes to depth and intensity. Try pairing these with a left bank Bordeaux, a Barolo, or even a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon for best results.

No matter what type of chocolate you enjoy, or what types of wine you usually reach for, you can make the pleasure of your pairings last even longer with a zzysh® wine preservation system. These fantastic wine gadgets allow you to save your unfinished bottles of wine, and extend the lifespan of your vino for weeks and weeks.

 

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