Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.  When one thinks of Valentine’s Day, you think of wine and chocolate.  At least I do. Unfortunately in my house it’s a “Hallmark Holiday” so the only chocolate I will see is the bag of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the cupboard.

But for many of you Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate your love for one another with wine and chocolate.

Here is some basic tips to pairing wines with chocolate.

  • Make sure the chocolate is not sweeter than the wine you are pairing it with.
  • Pair chocolate and wine according to the darkness of the chocolate.
  • Look for wines with soft tannins.  A tannic wine will not blend well on your palate with the chocolate.
  • Pair the intenseness of the chocolate with the body of the wine.
  • Match lighter flavor chocolate with lighter bodied wines.
How to taste your pairing:
  • Smell the wine. Breathe in the aromas
  • Look at the chocolate
  • Smell the chocolate
  • Taste the chocolate – Take a small bite and rest it on your tongue for 10-15 seconds. Notice the different aspects of the chocolate composition melt at different times in your mouth and concentrate on the different flavors you experience.
  • Taste the wine – Sip the wine and sense the balance and complexity of the chocolate and wine on your palate.
To get the best wine pairing with your chocolate you need to understand the intensity of the chocolate as well as the wine.
Bittersweet Chocolate which is 70% or more of cacao is the most intense chocolate. Look for bitter, roasted, fruit, earthy, woodsy and nutty notes.  The aftertaste can be bitter.  Because of its intensity it needs to be paired with strong red wines with concentrated fruit notes. Pair with Bordeaux, Malbec, Shiraz, Zinfandel and Port
Semisweet Chocolate is 50% to 65% cacao. It’s a strong chocolate with good balance of sugar. It’s not too sweet and the aftertaste is equally balanced. It can have a nutty, spicy, floral and earthy notes with hints of fruit and caramel. This will pair well with a Beaujolais as it will bring out the fruity notes. A Cabernet Sauvignon will bring out the fruity and peppery notes in the chocolate.  and a Tawny Port which would have the nutty and tabacco notes will make a nice pairing.

Milk Chocolate is 30% to 45% cacao. It’s milder and sweeter because it’s made with milk and a higher sugar content than the darker varieties. You will find flavors of brown sugar, milk, cream cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, nutty and malt. Since it’s a lighter  and creamier chocolate you can pair it with Pinot Noir, Hungarian Jokaji or Tawny Port.

White Chocolate –  Believe it or not white chocolate has no cacao in it.  Its mellow and buttery.  It’s great with Sparkling Wine, Moscato and Riesling.

This Valentine’s Day, please enjoy the wine, chocolate and the love!