Pairing assorted chocolates with wine
Valentine’s Day is over, but Easter is coming up very soon. Do you know what that means? More than likely, it means you’ll be getting MORE chocolate!
FYI, I love chocolate more than kittens love catnip, but sometimes it can be a little too rich. When I’m determined to wax decadent anyway, the best thing is to enjoy it with wine – the trick is to pair wisely! Not every wine goes well with chocolate. Some may enhance the sweetness rather than cut through it, leaving a cloyingly sweet aftertaste in your mouth. Others can overpower the more delicate confections.
There’s an art to balancing wine and chocolate, and lucky for you I’m here to help! Let’s say you have some assorted chocolates left over. That’s the trickiest pairing so we’ll tackle it first. In any one of those heart-shaped boxes there are as many possible flavors and textures as there are spaces for them.
So what do you do? Well, you could buy several different kinds of wine and sip one with the caramels, one with the “fruit creme” centers (whatever that is!), and one with the nuts and pralines, but that’s a lot of wine! Another option is to find one bottle to rule, ahem, pair them all!
In this case, my go-to wine is and likely will always be a Pinot Noir. It’s delicate enough to drink with those creamy centered sweets, but it stands up to dark chocolates as well. That said, there are many variations of pinot noir – some are light and crisp while others (late-harvest) are a bit sweeter. Trust me, you’ll want to go for the sweeter wine here. You need to match sweetness with sweetness, so avoid trying to pair a dry red wine with chocolate, and instead look for wines to bring a natural sweetness, balanced by fresh acidity, to help keep up with the sweetness of the chocolate you’re enjoying, while also cleaning off your palate so you’re ready for the next bite! When in doubt, ask the staff at your favorite package store or wine shop – they’re there to help!
My most recent favorite is Belle Ambiance Pinot Noir. I hate to say this, but it’s a cheap wine (sorry!). It’s also very smooth and drinkable, and like some of the more expensive pinots, it pretty much goes with everything. Their “Tasting notes” say it all: …alluring aromas of cherry, plum and cocoa…soft, elegant flavors of sweet fruit and toasty oak…soft tannins to the balanced acidity and clean, fruit-filled finish, this wine captures the essence of everything that makes Pinot Noir so irresistible.
For a little more money, you could try Anindor Vineyards 2010 Forgotten Kisses Pinot Noir. This is a unique style of Pinot Noir, that was aged for an extra year in barrel for smoothness. There is also a subtle sweetness on the back end that comes from stopping the fermentation just short of dry. It’s absolutely delicious, and in my humble opinion goes wonderfully with chocolates.
Between now and Easter I’ll post some more pairing tips, but for now pick up a bottle or two of wine and discover which ones you like with your chocolate!