Here’s the good news: If you have a bottle of wine and a bar of chocolate, it’s already a party. But pairing wine and chocolate can be trickier than you think. Use this guide to help you find the perfect wine pairing for your favorite chocolate.
While this luxurious pairing seems like a no-brainer, you might be surprised to learn that matching the right chocolate with the right wine can be a bit of a challenge. Some pairings are pure magic, while others…can taste kind of weird. Ready to avoid the weirdness? Use this guide to learn how to pair chocolate and wine like a pro.
A good rule of thumb for pairing wine with chocolate is that the wine should be slightly sweeter than the chocolate. This is true for any kind of dessert pairing, but since chocolate is so intense, it’s especially important to observe here. Here’s another fun fact: Chocolate has tannins – just like wine. If you combine a tannin-rich dark chocolate square with a highly tannic wine, the whole thing will taste bitter. Fruit-forward flavors and residual sweetness in wine can help mellow things out.
Yes, we know that white chocolate is not technically chocolate. It’s okay. Sweet and creamy white chocolate pairs well with a light and sweet wine. You could go with an off-dry Riesling, a fizzy wine like Moscato d’Asti (white) or Brachetto d'Acqui (red), or even a sweet sherry like Pedro Ximénez sherry from Spain.
Since milk chocolate is part chocolate, part cream, it’s not only delicious but quite versatile. Whether you like white or red wine, you’ve got options when you’re enjoying a Hershey Bar. Milk chocolate pairs well with slightly sweet, aromatic white wines like Viognier, Gewürztraminer, and Alsace Pinot Gris. It also pairs well with light- to medium-bodied fruity reds like Pinot Noir and Merlot, as well as sweet and fizzy reds like Lambrusco. In fact, the jammy notes in Lambrusco combined with chocolate sort of tastes like a PB&J.
Here’s where things get tricky. A dark chocolate square and a sip of red wine sounds great on paper, but a dry red wine with a lot of tannins can turn this dream into a nightmare. Instead, pair your 72% cacao dark chocolate with a sweet, jammy red wine like Zinfandel or a dessert wine like ruby port or Grenache-based Banyuls.
If you’re all about chocolate that’s got another flavor in the mix, you can use the most prominent flavor to help you pick a wine. Here’s how to get started:
Love your chocolate with a hint of mint? Try a bold Syrah with notes of dark fruit.
If chocolate caramels are your guilty pleasure, go with a tawny port or a sweet sherry.
Chocolate with sea salt or chocolate-covered pretzels go well with a slightly sweet Gewürztraminer or Zinfandel.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups pair well with a nutty, sweet wine like Madeira or tawny port.
Got a date night coming up? Chocolate-covered strawberries pair well with a semi-dry sparkling wine.
In Vino Finito
Wine and chocolate are a match made in heaven when paired correctly. Need help choosing a wine? We’re here to help. With your Bright Cellars subscription, you can reach out to a Wine Concierge at any time by emailing email@example.com.