It seems like forever that the combination of wine, chocolate and romance has been around, but that’s not really the case. Wine has always been there: we can delve into antiquity and find wine associated with spring rituals of fertility. A bit later on, in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared Feb.14 to be recognized as Saint Valentine’s Day (St. Valentine being the patron saint of love for preforming weddings for Roman soldiers), but it wasn’t until 1861, when Richard Cadbury perfected ‘eating chocolate’, that chocolate entered the picture. He introduced heart shaped Valentine boxes of edible chocolates decorated with images of cupids and rosebuds. The Victorians went nuts for chocolate, so to speak, and the world was changed! Wine and chocolate do have some affinity: both are considered aphrodisiacs, both contain antioxidants, both have raw ingredients (grapes, cocoa beans, that are fermented as part of the process, granted in different ways), both have a connection to where and in what conditions of temperature, climate, and geography they were grown. Both follow the rule: you can’t make good chocolate/wine without having good beans/grapes.
So here are some tips for wine/chocolate pairings.
#1:Your wine must be as sweet if not sweeter than the chocolate you pair with it. If this tip is not followed, the wine will taste astringent and bitter. This is pretty much the only ‘rule’.
#1: Weight with weight. If you’re serving lighter style chocolate, then pair with lighter style wine. Denser chocolate (with high percentages of cacao) is best matched with heftier wines.
#3: Go for good quality chocolate. Yes the same applies for the wine, but that doesn`t necessarily mean shelling out mega bucks for that vintage Port, although nobody’s stopping you.
#4: Keep an open mind and have some fun! Everyone’s palate is different, so what you might think is not a match, could be a good pairing for your friend sitting next to you.
#5: Wine and chocolate will still be available after February 14th. The guidelines here will still work, year round.
#6: Check out some of the websites in my list of resources. There’s plenty of good information out there.
The Suggested Pairings.
Dark Chocolate: Port and port-style red wines, PX sherry.
- Falernia Carmenere Gran Reserva Apassimento 2017, Valle Di Elqui, Chile, 14.5% abv. $18.99 750 ml.
- Quail’s Gate Fortified Vintage Foch 2015, VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C. 17.5% abv. $26.99 375 ml.
- Rombauer Vineyards Zinfandel 2017, Napa Valley, California, 15.9% abv. $57.99 750 ml. (Vega Friendly)
Milk Chocolate: Late harvested red wines, Ruby Port, Reciotto Della Valpolicella, Hungarian Tokaji, Moscato
- Beni Di Batasiolo Bosc D`La Rei Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2019, Piedmont, Italy, 5% abv. $18.99 75 ml.
- Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 11.5% abv. $27.49 200 ml. (Vegan Friendly)
- Grand Tokaj Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2013, Hungary 9.5% abv $38.49 500 ml. (Alert: limited quantities in store. We will be bringing in another Tokaji to replace this one next week; probably the same or similar price)
White Chocolate: technically not a true chocolate, but it actually could pair with dry red wine (who knew?). Pinot Noir, Moscato, Icewine. Refer to my picks above.
Wine and chocolate are two of the world’s great indulgences. We don’t need a special day to celebrate the joy and comfort they give to us, but it’s kind of nice to have a built in excuse. Happy Valentine’s Day!
List Of Sources
Bell, Emily, 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Pairing Wine and Chocolate, February 11, 2016, Vinepair
Byers, Rod, A Look At The Valentine’s Day Tradition of Pairing Wine and Chocolate, The Union, February 4, 2020
Greenwood-Haigh, David, How To Pair Chocolate and Wine, Coeur De Xocolat
Heart Of The Desert Blog, Wine and Chocolate: The Perfect Pairing, September 7th, 2018
MacLean, Natalie, Wine and Chocolate Pairing with a Chocolate Sommelier, March 28, 2013
Puckette, Madeline, What Wines To Pair With Chocolate?, February 6, 2017, updated on February 20th, 2020, Wine Folly
Simon, Joanne, Wine With Food, Octopus Publishing Group, Simon and Schuster, New York, New York, 1996
Slinkard, Stacy, How to Pair Wine With Chocolate, 08/07/19, The Spruce Eats
Vance, Dustin, Wine Pairing & Chocolates: The Basics, Dorinda’s Chocolates
Whitaker, Isabelle, Chocolate And Wine Are More Similar Than You Think: The Science Of Chocolate, 31st October 2014, Cocoa Runners