February 14, 2017 | By RJS Craft Winemaking
It’s that time of year when we all have love and passion on our minds. Many of us are hoping our special someone will soon be seducing us with a big heart shaped box filled with our (second) favourite treat: chocolate. Then, we will light a few candles, open a bottle of our favourite craft wine, snuggle up on the coach and share an evening of romance with that special someone.
As perfect as an evening of sipping wine and savouring chocolate might sound, wine and chocolate, unlike you and your sweetheart, are not always a match made in heaven. Don’t blame the wine – it is more likely the chocolate’s fault.
Not only are the flavours of chocolate quite intense, chocolate also tastes sweet, bitter, acidic and even fruity all at the same time. That happens to be a characteristic it has in common with wine. Think of the relationship between wine and chocolate as similar to the relationship between you and your mother (or father): When two people have too much in common, they don’t always get along well.
For a wine to stand up, so to say, to the intensity of chocolate, it must be similarly powerful. A light dry red or white will lose all its flavour after one bite of good quality chocolate. The general rule of thumb is to pair wines of similar sweetness to the chocolate. Darker chocolate can stand up to drier wines whereas milk or white chocolate will need wines with more residual sugar. Also, avoid pairing all high acid wines with chocolate.
Try choosing wines that are fruity, from off dry to medium or sweet, depending on the chocolate, and always lower in tannins. En Primeur Winery Series Winemaker’s Trio Red will pair wonderfully with a good quality dark chocolate (go for at least 50% cocoa). And for those who prefer white chocolate, when made in a medium sweet style, the En Primeur Winery Series Winemaker’s Trio White will match quite nicely.
For those of us who only crave a creamy, milk chocolate, sommeliers will tell you time and again to save your dry table wines for pairing with cheese. Milk chocolate is best paired with a wine that is its match in decadence and lusciousness. A very good match is the Cru Specialty Vanilla Fig Dessert wine. Vanilla and chocolate flavours balance each other out, making great partners. And, the flavours of fig will complement the rich creaminess of the chocolate.
So, just because our two favourite Valentine’s Day treats, chocolate and wine, are challenging to pair, don’t despair. Sometimes the best relationships take a bit of work. Crack open a bottle of your best craft wine with your sweetie tonight – just make sure you choose the right one!