I’m not sure what I have been thinking – 93 wine column articles in for the Yass Valley Times, and it’s only now that I’ve dedicated a column to the combination of two of my favourite food fancies – wine and chocolate! Of course, chocolate is topical presently with many keen kiddies getting their Easter Egg hunt on last weekend, but in the broader scheme of things, the range and quality of the offerings available to us beckon for a brilliant chance to pair quality wine with fine chocolate.
Image at top – Chocolate market – Free Pixabay Image by Salah Ait Mokhtar
Let’s start the wine and choccy crusade with the most intensely flavoured chocolate to strut its stuff – dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is higher in cacao. The higher the cacao level, the more bitter, nuttier and raw tasting the chocolate becomes.
Dark chocolate then needs a big, rich and bold wine with ripe, dark fruit flavours. Cabernet Sauvignon with its ripe fruit, higher tannins and balanced acid levels can be a classic match to a high cacao percentage chocolate (80-90%). As the cacao drops, then you can look for red wines that are softer, rounder and more mellow, such as a classic cool climate Shiraz or Merlot from the Yass Valley region, especially one with a few years’ age under its belt.
By far the most popular chocolate going around is milk chocolate. The flavours are milder, rounder, and sweeter in this form due to the sugar and cream levels. An all-time ripping wine pairing with milk chocolate is Rutherglen Muscat. The ‘Standard’ and ‘Rutherglen’ classifications are rich, soft and syrupy and less of a whack on the wallet than the ‘Grand’ and ‘Rare’ versions and bang for buck are hard to go past as a classic match for milk chocolate. For milk chocolate with almonds or hazelnuts, try the nuttier Rutherglen ‘Topaque’. Another slightly left of centre suggestion but perhaps logical flavour-wise is Sparkling Red wines.
Sparkling Reds are usually more sweet than dry, have flavours of cherries and red berries and bubbles to boot – a tempting little taster – chocolate and cherries anyone?
The last of the chocolate variants is white chocolate. Replacing the cacao bean with cacao butter affords this choccy smooth, creamy, buttery and honey-like flavours.
A likely match is dessert-style white wines such as a botrytis Riesling or Semillon that compliments the smooth creaminess of the texture and elevates the pairing to the next level with their honey and marmalade like flavours. White chocolate and raspberries are a classic match, so you could also try it with the raspberry and strawberry flavours of a lovely little cool-climate Pinot Noir.
You might just now have an excuse to round out the Easter bunny basket leftovers.