Many folks have a love affair with chocolate, and enjoying your favorite alcoholic beverage with it can be a heavenly experience. Whether your tipple is wine, beer, or spirits, there’s a chocolate match to tickle your taste buds.
Start off by using the best chocolate you can find that contains quality ingredients and delivers ultimate creaminess. When matching alcohol to it, try matching the character of the beverage with the character of the chocolate. The supreme trip results when similar flavors and textures in both match, or opposite flavors in each enhance the other and elevate the final flavor to something ethereal.
Let’s start with wine, which is probably the most noteworthy combination, maybe because both cocoa beans and wine are fermented with the same type of yeast. Generally speaking, the wine should be as sweet as the chocolate and pair according to the darkness of the chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the darker the wine).
White chocolate is usually more buttery and mellow, lending itself to sweet sherries, moscato-based bubbly, orange muscat, late harvest selections, sweet rosés, Tokaji aszu, and sweeter rieslings. All of these will bring out the fruit character in the chocolate. Milk chocolate, with its smooth texture and cocoa butter character, works better with Madeira, Vin Santo, gewurztraminer and lighter, soft-tannined reds like merlot and pinot noir.
Dark or bittersweet versions with higher cacao content requires fuller, bigger, more robust, fruity wines, some of which actually have chocolaty notes. Try vintage or tawny port, Banyuls, PX sherry, cabernet sauvignon, Amarone, or fuller zinfandels. If the chocolate has nuts, check out oloroso sherry, Madeira, or tawny port. For berry-infused styles, go for ruby port, Banyuls, bubbly, or Moscato d’Asti.
With caramel and chocolate, Vin Santo, dessert Muscat, tawny port, PX sherry, or sweet bubbly are sublime. For chocolate mint, give shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet Franc, or Moscato d’Asti a go. Wine made from other fruit, such as Framboise, also work wonderfully.
Beer and spirits, too
Beer and chocolate are absolutely fabulous together.
For white chocolate, choose lighter brews with citrus, fruity, vanilla, honey notes. Try German or Belgian wheat beer, lager, pilsner, or fruit beer. Milk chocolate usually has around 35 to 45 percent cocoa content and needs medium strength beer with brown sugar, coffee, nutty, and caramel nuances. How about cream ale, pale ale, IPA, amber ale, porter, honey and maple brews, and certain European lagers?
Dark chocolate with about 55 percent-plus cocoa content plays best with dark, spicy, earthy, nutty brews such as stout, porter, dark ale, bock, dark lager, and other strong brews.
© Edward Finstein, “The Wine Doctor” 2016. “The Wine Doctor” is Edward Finstein, award-winning author, TV/radio host, renowned wine journalist, international wine judge, professor of wine, and consultant. For more information, visit winedoctor.ca, twitter.com/drwineknow, thewinedoctor.blogspot.com, winedoctor.ca/docs-grapevine.html, or facebook.com/edwarddocfinstein?fref=ts.