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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

Pair Wine and Chocolate Like a Pro

Pair Wine & Chocolate Like A Pro

If you’ve ever participated in a wine and chocolate pairing, it may seem that there are an awful lot of rules that dictate what can go together and what can’t. To the casual wine drinker or chocoholic, the matchmaking that goes into a successful pairing can seem like an obscure and complicated kind of alchemy.

But you don’t have to be a sommelier or a chocolatier to pair wine and chocolate with confidence and ease. A few guidelines can help you – yes, you! – create satisfying combinations of these two sumptuous substances (not to mention, make you at a hit at your next dinner party).
 

Wine and Chocolate: A Happy Couple

Wine and chocolate pairingThere are a number of reasons why wine and chocolate work well together. Both products undergo fermentation during production, which imparts those complex flavors, textures, and aromas that are so fun to explore. In fact, we use a lot of the same language to describe tasting notes in both wine and chocolate. For example, “fruity,” “nutty,” “buttery”, “spicy”, “subtle”, and “robust” all might be used to describe either product.

However, it’s important to remember, too, that chocolate and wine can be competitive flavors – each will try to command your palate’s attention! Careful and thoughtful pairing can prevent the two from fighting for “palate space”.
 

Guidelines, Not Rules

First, let go of the idea of hard-and-fast pairing “rules”. There are many handy charts and infographics that can tell you what to serve with what. These can be a useful start, but you’re much better off doing your own research and experimentation. Not to mention, as soon as you adopt a “rule”, you’ll find a way to break it. For example, many people think red wine must be paired with a dark chocolate. But during a recent meeting, a client loved the combination of a spicy, peppery red wine with our white chocolate and curry bark.
 

Steps to a Successful Pairing

  • • Go for quality wine and quality chocolate (hint hint, that’s where we come in). In a pairing scenario, participants will be tasting with great care in order to identify different flavor notes. You don’t want the experience to be marred by an unbalanced wine or chocolate that’s adulterated by added vegetable oils or corn syrup.
  • • Strive for balance. Your wine should not overpower the chocolate, or vice versa. Choose wines and chocolates that match in body and intensity. For example, a robust chocolate such as Hedonist’s espresso bark might overwhelm a delicate, subtle white wine. You will also want to approximately match wines and chocolates by sweetness. If the chocolate is a great deal sweeter than the wine, the wine will taste bitter by comparison.
  • • The wine and chocolate should enhance one another. You want harmony, not sameness. In an ideal pairing, one brings out the flavors in another. In a recent pairing at Hedonist, a fruity red enlivened the dried cherries on our cherry-almond bark. You’ll definitely know when a combination is working – the chocolate will meld harmoniously with the wine, highlighting subtle, underlying flavors.
  • • You can read about chocolate and wine pairings all day, but it won’t really sink in until you try it yourself. When we’re creating a custom flavor for a winery client, we take out the contents of our pantry – nuts, fruits, spices, and of course the chocolate itself – and we taste and tinker until we’ve got a match. And yes, that process really is as fun as it sounds!

 

Where to Taste Chocolate and Wine

To create your own chocolate and wine pairing, it’s as simple and buying a few good bottles of wine and a few boxes of chocolate from your friendly neighborhood chocolatier (that would be us) and setting up shop on your kitchen table. Not ready to go it alone? A number of wineries in the Finger Lakes offer chocolate pairing in their tasting rooms. Check out Ravines, Hunt Country, Casa Larga, or Silver Thread for a guided tasting.

 
Pleasure, handcrafted. Hedonist Artisan Chocolates are handmade with fresh ingredients to give as gifts or indulge yourself.
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