Best of two worlds: The ultimate guide to pairing chocolate and wine
To enhance the flavours of your favourite chocolate, Christine Ricketts, our Cellar Director and Wine Educator, has shared her expert tips on what wines to match.
“The secret is to find a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate. If the chocolate is sweeter than the wine, it can actually make the wine taste bitter,” she says.
Cabernet Sauvignon has rich black currant and blackberry flavours, which add a lovely sweetness to dark chocolate’s bitterness. If you’re after a more complex taste, try it with Zinfandel, a richly flavoured red wine full of dark berries, licorice and black pepper. The fruity, spicy and smoky taste paired with the will chocolate give you a rich, bold taste sensation.
Recommended wine: Black Wattle Mt Benson Cab Sav 2015
Tasting notes: Beautiful concentrated spicy fruit with tobacco cedar notes combined with ripe black- berries, the intense fruit from the nose follows through on the palate. Well structured, even tannins are with a fine acidity and rich earthy flavours, producing a very special wine of great complexity and length.
White chocolate is not actually chocolate, but cocoa fat, so an acidic, sweet wine such as Moscato d’Asti, a sparkling wine from Italy, or a Gewürztraminer, an aromatic white wine, will cut through the fat and bring out the buttery and creamy flavours of the ‘chocolate’.
Recommended wine: Cape Campbell Marlborough Gewurtztraminer 2016
Tasting notes: Gewurztraminer is a German word for spicy, which sums up the grape's taste. Bursting with lychees and turkish delight, these characters carry through onto the palate which is in the drier spectrum of Gewurztraminers. It has a lovely mouthfeel, coupled with refreshing acidity and fantastic length of flavour.
Milk chocolate has high levels of cream and sugar, so a crisp Riesling will contrast the sweet and milky taste. If you are a red wine drinker, a plush Merlot will pair nicely as its soft, velvety and plum flavours will enhance the cacao of the chocolate.
Recommended wine: Black Wattle Mt Benson Merlot 2015
Tasting notes: Showing concentrated mulberry and herbal fruit layered with spices and fine chocolate characters, the intens fruit from the nose follows through on the palate. Solid yet well balanced tannins with a fine acidity giving roundness and balance.
Hazelnut or Caramel Chocolate
Sweet, red Tawny port has a wide array of subtle flavours, including hazelnut, dried fruits and caramel, which means it will enhance the nutty flavours of the chocolate. Caramel chocolates are the perfect harmony of sweet, salty, fat and bitter. Again, a Tawny port is will enhance the caramel, or pair with an Olorosso sherry which has a dark and nutty flavour that will bring out the chocolate flavor.
Recommended wine: Dorrien Estate "old Contemptibles" Australia Tawny 500ml NV (6-pack)
Tasting notes: This Very Old Tawny from premium small batch winery is luscious and silky. Intense flavours of spicy caramel are lifted by the clean brandy spirit.
Salted Caramel Chocolate
A sparkling Shiraz is brilliant as it boasts a velvety palate, flavours of sweet fruits such as blackberries and blueberries, hints of chocolate and exotic spices – it has an overall sweetness that complements the saltiness and bitterness of the chocolate.
Recommended wine: Dorrien Estate Cuvée Shiraz (6-pack) NV
Tasting notes: This excellent Cuvée Shiraz has been made from select parcels that maintain high standards for your indulgence. Rich, ripe flavours of dark fruits combine excellently with the balancing tannins and firm acidity structure on the lingering finish.
The ultimate match for mint chocolate is a Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, as it will really highlight the mint flavour. Cab Savs that are from wine regions that are warm enough to have low pyrazine levels but are still generally cool tend to have a beautiful, mint aroma.
Recommended wine: The Ridge Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Tasting notes: This single vineyard Margaret River Cabernet is made by leading vigneron Charlie Maiolo from his estate in the north of the region. Rich full bodied, balanced tannins & long elegant finish.
Orange Milk Chocolate
With flavours of green pepper and lime, a Grüner Veltliner – a dry, white wine will highlight the citrus flavours. If it’s a dark orange chocolate, a sweet, dark Liqueur Muscat will leave a beautiful finish.
Recommended wine: Ata Mara Central Otago Gruner Veltliner 2017
Tasting notes: This Austrian grape variety loves the Central Otago climate. The small vines on Ata Mara's Pisa vineyard produced enormous bunches of grapes that have been turned into a wine that's complex and weighty. A dry style that all white drinkers should try.