Chocolate. The first thing that comes to mind is probably the mass produced chocolate treats you see at the grocery store. Some are ultra-sweet while others leave something to be desired. The complexity and flavor profiles of premium chocolate is comparable to that of specialty coffees, fine wines and craft beers. Small-batch production, artful roasting and careful crafting produce an end result worth savoring. Why not leave the candle-lit dinner for two behind this Valentine’s Day and enjoy a foodie adventure immersing your taste buds in the juxtaposition of wine and chocolate?
Albeit a little challenging, pairing wine and chocolate isn’t impossible and the options for desert wines are far from limiting. To start though, let’s cover a few basics; dry wines of any nature don’t marry their flavors well with the sweet and creamy of milk chocolate or the bold tenacity of dark chocolate. In this particular instance, sweet pairs best with sweet.
Milk chocolate often contains more fat through the use of milk solids and sweeteners and this fat actually helps to accentuate the flavors of both the wine and the chocolate—similar to that of cheese and wine pairing. But don’t let the cocoa content fool you, some chocolate manufacturers use higher cocoa content along with the addition of milk solids and sweeteners to create a rich flavor profile.
To be considered “dark,” the content of cocoa solids in dark chocolate must be greater than 35 percent. That may not seem like much, but when compared to the 10 percent of standard milk chocolate, 35 percent is a noticeable taste difference. Generally speaking, the higher cocoa content the stronger the flavors, nutty or bitter for example.
A flavorful imposter, white chocolate doesn’t actually contain any cocoa. Instead, white chocolate is made of cocoa butter, a vegetable fat derived as an end product in chocolate production. This fat isn’t very tasty on its own so milk solids, milk fats, vanilla and sweeteners are added to make this treat more tantalizing.
With any chocolate, a well made bar should ‘snap’ when you break it into pieces. The sharper the sound the better tempered your bar of chocolate happens to be.
How to eat chocolate
Don’t just toss a piece of chocolate into your mouth and begin chewing. Instead, allow the chocolate to melt on your tongue. Enjoy the flavors. Then swallow and take a sip of wine to heighten the experience.
True white chocolate isn’t actually white but is instead an ivory color so look for this tell-tale sign when selecting.