Did you know that history’s most famous ladies’ man, Casanova himself, made a habit of consuming chocolate before his romantic trysts? Or that the great Aztec emperor, Montezuma, gulped a goblet of liquid chocolate before visiting his harem?
No? Well, you’ve likely stumbled upon many recent articles about the health benefits of dark chocolate – bursting with powerful antioxidants and flavonoids to help to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, protect against sun damage, increase cognitive functions, improve mood, etc. Similarly, countless modern studies have also documented health benefits of wine (Yes, white wine as well). Many doctors agree that it’s possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, provide profound anti-aging and heart-healthy benefits.
Chocolate and wine share other fun similarities beyond these oh-so-welcomed health and beauty revelations. Perhaps surprisingly, they are described using a very similar vocabulary of taste characteristics such as “tannic, acidic, sweet, floral, fruity, spicy, earthy, etc.” And they both have earned an association – together or alone – with romance, sensuality and epicurean sumptuousness. Dessert wines, in particular, have been paired with chocolate by chocolatiers and sommeliers alike in delightful feats of palate alchemy.
So this Valentine’s Day, don’t just give chocolate – step it up and bring along a bottle of elixir d’amore! (Don’t know much about dessert wine at all? Check out my recent post, Sweeten Up Your Wine Repertoire for a quick primer.)
A few things to keep in mind when pairing chocolate with wine:
- Choose a wine at least as sweet as or sweeter than the chocolate; otherwise, the taste may quickly veer towards sour.
- The darker the chocolate (usually less sweet), the more full-bodied the wine should be. For example, a dark chocolate tends to pair well with an intense fruit driven red, such as a late harvest California Zinfandel or jammy Syrah.
- Wines may provide either matching or complementary characteristics. A wine with fruity and floral notes, for example, could work well with either a fruit-infused truffle OR a dry, earthy chocolate block.
- As with any food and wine pairing, your personal palate is the your most trusted guide, so be creative and have fun. Santé!
TASTE n PAIR pocket guide: