After a weekend in Napa and a stop at the Vintage Sweet Shoppe on Main Street, I wanted to recreate the experience at home of pairing wonderfully delicious chocolate with different wines. What makes chocolate and wine the quintessential pairing? Wine and chocolate both have notes. Chocolate can be bitter, rich, nutty, fruity- just to name a few. Contrary to popular belief, wine and chocolate are not a straightforward or easy pairing. It takes an understanding of basic flavors in different types of chocolates and wines to make a successful pairing. Below, I offer some goof proof tips for creating a perfect wine and chocolate pairing. Once you pair the right wine with the right chocolate, it’s a match made in heaven!
Trader Joes offers a great selection of different chocolates including truffles, milk and dark Belgium chocolates. My pairing consistent of three types of chocolates (dark, milk, and truffles) and hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries. I spent about $10 for these ingredients. If you plan on making chocolate covered strawberries, you can easily melt chocolate on a stovetop for 3-5 minutes. I recommend using semi-sweet chocolate. Dip the strawberries and/or coat with a spoon about half way up. Place the strawberries on wax paper and place them in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before serving, so the chocolate hardens (full recipe below).
Here a few tips to follow when pairing chocolate and wine:
- The stronger the chocolate, the more full bodied the wine should be. Creamier chocolates are better paired with sweet wine, while more intense dark chocolates are better paired with fuller bodied red wines like Zinfandel or Cabernet.
- Similar to wine tasting, if you are serving several types of chocolates always work from light to dark.
- When serving decadent chocolate desserts, think about serving with a Tawny or Ruby Port which is still robust but compliments the sweetness.
- If you are a white chocolate fan, there are white wines that pair nicely with white chocolate. Look for aromas of vanilla, nut, and butter.
Quick Guide to Chocolate and Wine:
- White Chocolate – Try Moscato, Sherry, or white wine varietals (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Sancerre, Viognier)
- Milk Chocolate – Light to Medium bodied reds including Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Merlot
- Dark Chocolate – Bold reds including Zinfandel and Cabernet
- Truffles/Caramels – Sweet wines including Ruby/Tawny Ports
The Perfect Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 pound large strawberries (washed and dried)
Step 1: Place chocolate in a bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, 3 to 5 mins. For a shortcut you can place the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds.
Step 2: Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. One at a time dip each strawberry, twirling to coat and then place on waxed paper.
Step 3: Chill chocolate-dipped strawberries at least 15 minutes before serving so chocolate hardens slightly.
Serve with a great wine!
Photo Credit: Joe Ercoli @ anvilimage.com