Pairing Chocolate and Wine

Popular chocolate producers go up against two wines


Chocolate and wine are a very traditional pairing and become especially important when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

Ask almost anyone what they will be giving their sweetheart this Valentine's Day, and they will respond with one simple word: chocolate. What kind and from where is another question. And then there is the question of which wine to pair along. Snooth Editor Kate Statton has put together a guide for choosing chocolate over on What's Cookin'. My job? Pitting two different wines against each product in hopes of finding the perfect match.

A red and a white wine were selected as the test products. For the white, I chose a sweeter Riesling - 2009 Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Auslese from Mosel. For the red, I chose a heavier style - 2009 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. Two very different wines that revealed some very interesting, and delicious, conclusions.

Photo courtesy Wombatunderground1 via Flickr/CC
Chocolate #1: Hershey’s Pot of Gold Premium Truffle Hearts (Dark and Milk Chocolate)
    Riesling: With the milk chocolate truffle, the sweetness from the wine overshadows the chocolate; the dark chocolate truffle was a better pairing, as the sweetness and acidity from the wine complemented the more bitter aspect of the dark chocolate.
    Cabernet Sauvignon: I would not suggest pairing a heavier wine like this Cab with either of the Hershey’s options. The complex tannins and oak are just too much for the simple, straightforward creaminess that these popular and affordable chocolates lend. However, the dark chocolate was a bit better than the milk, as both the wine and chocolate had slightly bitter components that actually complemented each other.

Chocolate #2: Godiva Limited Edition Ultimate Desserts Truffle Box
    Strawberry Creme Tart: Decadent and intense chocolate with a strawberry jam and cream filling. The Riesling was not a friendly pairing creating an overkill on the sweet and creamy factors. If you have an extreme sweet tooth, this might be for you. I suggest the Cab since the tannins balance out the creamy sugar component. Another plus was the way the Cab really showcased the jelly filling!
    Red Velvet:  I loved the white chocolate coating on this truffle and the way it really melded with the Riesling. The tannins from the Cabernet took away the from the white shell, but the dark chocolate center went swimmingly with the red wine. Perhaps a rosé might be your best bet with this lovely truffle.
    Molten Lava: This one was a surprise! While the Cab overpowered the intense and creamy chocolate, the Riesling showed a lovely balance with the bitterness of the dark chocolate and made a lovely pairing.

Chocolate #3: Jacques Torres
    What can be argued as the epitome of the NYC chocolate houses, the selections from Jacques Torres were an overwhelming success with both wines, making this my recommendation for the ideal chocolate wine pairing!
    Grand Cru “Red Wine” Truffle: The Riesling made for an incredibly smooth and balanced pairing, while the balance of dark fruit and tannins from the Cab really enriched and sweetened the chocolate. This being a red wine-filled truffle, its destiny is to be enjoyed alongside a glass of wine.
    Creamy Raspberry Truffle: Nice balance of sweetness with the Riesling here and divine with the fruity, raspberry component. With the Cab, tannins and sweetness unite, making for what has to be one of my favorite pairings from the tasting.

Chocolate #3: Maison du Chocolat
Vanilla-Infused: Beautiful with the Riesling, sweetness loves company! My reaction with the cab? "Huh...not the best"
    Hazelnut: A very strange combination with both the Riesling and Cabernet, but strange in the best sense! I love the interplay of nuttiness and fruit with both wines. A great way to challenge and excite your palette!

At this point, my palette was just about shot and I was on a sugar high, so I'll spare you the detailed notes that came from the last two tasting experiments. A few highlights were the combination of See's S'more-like truffle, its marshmallow layer providing beautifully balanced sweetness to the Riesling. The dark chocolate and caramel layers melt in your mouth with a sip of the Cab. Lake Champlain's Champagne dark chocolates are absoultey divine with a sweeter Riesling like the one chosen for this tasting.

This is a very brief sampling of the possibiltites for pairing wine with chocolate. If I had to do it again, I would definitely have thrown a nice rosé from Provence in the mix, given its ability to bring together and balance out the different kinds of sweet components. As we near the beloved Valentine's holiday, please let us know what wines you are pairing with each box of chocolates.

Mentioned in this article


  • I just taught a wine and chocolate pairing class. I like champagne with some lighter chocolates and fresh creams. We paired a Pinot Noir (Burgundy) with dark chocolates --one with hazelnut and pear, one with ginger. Finally, a full bodied Cote du Rhone went with dark chocolate and red pepper. We're going to do wines and cheeses next ---thought before that, we'll be doing the Lot 18 Valentine's trip to Paris where we will have a private wine and chocolate pairing....Bliss!

    Feb 06, 2012 at 2:37 PM

  • Maury, Banyuls and Collioure for dark chocolate, guaranteeable. I think it very iffy to match with dry wines like cabernet, but do not know your example. I would be prepared to experiment with Aleatico di Puglia as well, as it has a similar burnt bittersweetness to the French trio

    Feb 07, 2012 at 4:31 AM

  • Snooth User: Kristin Watts
    Hand of Snooth
    854949 2,200

    Thanks for the recommendations, williamsimpson! Yes, I was wary of choosing a dry red wine but was very much interested in seeing how it played out in comparison to the sweeter Riesling - I thought it would be a nice contrast :) And it turned out to be a pretty pairing with several of the chocolate selections!

    Feb 07, 2012 at 10:52 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,986

    Am with William in that chocolate and 'dry' wines basically cancel each other out. Bliss, I'm sorry, but I hope it wasn't a good Burgundy with your darkchocolate and ginger. Barely champers, certainly the Banyuls, and certain ports also work. Fizzy maybe, fortified a better bet. The only thing that's guaranteed is cognac and similar spirits... ;-)

    Why not enjoy the chocolate for chocolate and the wine for wine (or with real food matches), instead of effectively engineering a gastronomic train wreck?

    Feb 08, 2012 at 7:13 AM

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