Chocolate and wine are two of life’s great small pleasures. Other than soft dates, a slide guitar, a leisurely beach walk, or some old, crackling R&B, nothing quite satisfies the senses like a good hunk of chocolate or a smooth glass of wine. They’re both said to be aphrodisiacs and contain health benefits, the most abundant of which are the anti-oxidant flavanols. But this where the comparison ends. As it turns out, eating wine and chocolate together can prove to be tricky.
Sometimes the taste of certain wines with certain chocolates can cancel each other out, resulting either in a dry mouth or bitter taste. It’s extremely frustrating, to say the least, that two of life’s greatest inventions would do that to each other. We here at WineNight decided that with the abundance of chocolate flowing into Americans lives around this time of year, it was a good time to educate all you adults getting into the Halloween spirit about the chocolates that pair best with certain kinds of wines. So whether you’re kicking back in your house doling out candy to trick-or-treaters or headed out to a Game of Thrones-themed costume party, you’re going to want to know about theses chocolate worthy wines, or wine worthy chocolates.
Below you’ll find a listing of the most popular types of chocolate: dark, milk, and white, and the best wines to pair them with. We’ve compiled this thorough listing from a few of our favorite wine and food resources: Wine Folly and The Spruce.
If you’ve discovered any additional pairings in your wine and chocolate experimentation, please let us know about your findings in the comment section below!
The Spruce tells us that dark chocolate with a minimum of 35% cocoa goes best with a wine that’s fuller bodied, with robust aromas, intense flavor with bold fruit. For this purpose, Zinfandels, with their dense fruit and energetic spice, can handle dark chocolate really well.
The bold structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and its full-bodied taste with all that juicy black fruit and defined tannins makes for a perfect pairing for the drier style of darker chocolate. Other great wines are Pinot Noir or Merlot, which works well with dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark.
Ideal types of wine with dark chocolate: Port, PX Sherry, Banyuls, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.
Listing of dark chocolate worthy bottles, as suggested by Wine Folly:
- Vin Santo del Chianti: or Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice has rich, sweet flavors of cherries, cinnamon, and a fine nuttiness.
- Port-style Red Wines: There are several single-varietal Port-style wines (coming from outside of Portugal) that have ample intensity to balance dark chocolate, including Zinfandel (with cayenne chocolate), Malbec (with ginger chocolate) and Petite Sirah (with coffee chocolate).
- Port: The original Port from Portugal often has touches of cinnamon spice to the taste profile and pairs marvelously with chocolates with high cacao percentages.
- Pedro Ximinez: The region of Montilla-Moriles in Spain makes this inky brown-black colored wine (PX or Pedro Ximinez) designed to be enjoyed in exceptionally small sips. The wine adds nutty and raisinated flavors to dark chocolate and even goes well with espresso.
- Chinato: This is an aromatized wine (aka vermouth) from Piedmont, with subtle notes of cherry dusted in exotic spices.
For milk chocolate, The Spruce recommends ripe, red fruity tastes of a Pinot Noir or a medium-bodied Merlot. They’ll will work well with the smooth character and cocoa butter components of milk chocolate. Riesling, Muscat or the range of notable dessert wines tend to also hold up quite well to the mild mouthfeel of milk chocolate. Also, consider a sparkling wine or Champagne for pairing with milk chocolate dipped strawberries.
Favorite types of wine for milk chocolate: Port, Madeira, Vin Santo, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gewurztraminer, some sweeter styles of sparkling wine.
Wine Folly’s most favorite bottles with milk chocolate:
- Brachetto d’Acqui: A sweet sparkling red wine from Piedmont, Italy. It is also an excellent pair with chocolate mousse!
- Late-Harvest Red Wines: Port style wines including late-harvest Syrah, Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.
- Recioto della Valpolicella: A very rare sweet red wine from the same region that produces Amarone in Italy.
- Ruby Port: The original Port from Portugal makes for a more spiced and berry driven pairing with milk chocolate
- Banyuls or Maury: The French “Port” has funkier earthier notes and for this reason will do marvelously well with chocolate truffles.
- Rutherglen Muscat: This elixir is perhaps the sweetest of the sweet wines in the world and it comes from Victoria, Australia.
- Lambrusco di Sorbara: The lightest of the Lambruscos, a sparkling red wine, with delicate flavors of peach and strawberry.
White chocolate, according to The Spruce, tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for the sweeter styles of Sherry and the sweet, subtle bubbles of Italy’s Moscato d’Asti or the heady aromas of an Orange Muscat.
Ideal wines with white chocolate: Orange Muscat, Moscato d’Asti, slightly sweet rosé, Brachetto d’Acqui, Tokaji, and German Riesling on the sweet end of the spectrum.
Wine Folly’s bottle picks with white chocolate:
- Pinot Noir: A shockingly good pairing, especially for chocolate and wine pairing disbelievers. The white chocolate acts as the fat that delivers sweet flavors of red cherries, strawberries, and raspberries found in the Pinot Noir. If you’re looking for a great alternative, check out Schiava.
- Beaujolais: Another light-bodied red wine similar to Pinot Noir. The grape variety Gamay has a range of flavors depending on what Beaujolais Cru it’s from. For example, Saint-Amour delivers more red fruit and flower flavors whereas Morgon generally offers more black currant and blueberry flavors.
- Moscato d’Asti: Since white chocolate is delicate enough to match with white wines, a Muscat Blanc or Moscato d’Asti delivers flavors of peaches and cream with floral notes of roses. Sparkling wines make the pairing have extra creaminess.
- Brachetto d’Acqui: Another great pairing with white chocolate, delivering creamy raspberry notes with subtle notes of peonies.
- Ice Wine: Depending on the varieties used to make the ice wine (usually Riesling and Vidal Blanc), you’ll discover notes of pineapple, lemon meringue, and creamy candied oranges.
- Rosé Port: This is the newest style of Port and offers rich flavors of sweet strawberries and currant. The minerality in this Port carries through, making it a sophisticated sweet match.