Wine and chocolate is one of the most popular pairings worldwide. But why? It’s actually quite scientific. And if you pair the wrong chocolate with the wrong wine, the result can be bitter, sour, and lots of other words that ultimately mean nasty. The secret to the perfect wine pairing is actually something most have never heard of, polyphenols.
Polyphenols are chemical compounds found in wine and chocolate. The good news is they are good for you and have anti-inflamatory properties. The bad news is they impact the flavors. The more polyphenols a wine or chocolate contains, the more bitter it will be. Pair a wine and chocolate that both have a lot of polyphenols and well, you get the picture.
You don’t have to do all of the guess work yourself though. Here are some general wine and chocolate pairings to consider.
Petit Verdot and a simple choclate cookie or chocolate cake. This is one of my favorite chocolate and wine pairings. When we think of wine and chocolate we often think about bold, heavy reds and chocolate with 70-85% cocoa. However, a lighter bodied red like Petit Verdot pairs well with a chocolate crinkle cookie or simple choclate cake with no frosting or a frosting that leans more towards milk chocolate flavor than a darker chocolate – think your ordinary Pilsbury cake icing. This pairing is approachable and comforting.
Malbec and dark chocolate covered ginger. Malbec has its own hint of spiciness and pairs well with chocolates that are slightly more acidic. This often makes it a great wine to pair with chocolate covered ginger, but also chocolate and fig bars or chocolate and cherry combos.
Touriga Nacional and chocolate with mint. If you’re looking for a wine to try with chocolate and mint (think a peppermint patty), try Touriga Nacional. It doesn’t fight the mint flavor, but instead compliments it, while the chocolate and mint elevate fruit flavor notes sometimes hidden in Touriga Nacional.
Moscato d’ Asti and white chcolate. Chocolate pairings are not just for red wines. Moscato d’Asti pairs well with white chocolate desserts.