2006 Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy.


The Bitter Facts About Chocolate And Wine

I know there are a lot of folks out there who are ga-ga for chocolate and red wine, so I’m a little reluctant to burst their bubble with the following newsflash: chocolate and wine go together as well as the Hatfields and the McCoys at a Sunday barbecue.

Now before anyone declares a blood feud with me, let me just say that blanket statements rarely cover all aspects of any argument, especially when we’re talking about wine. Some wines, like ruby ports, are simply made for chocolate concoctions. And certain types of chocolates are better suited for wine. The “mistake,” if you could call it that, is that I see a lot of people pairing dry red wines, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, with various forms of chocolate.

The inherent problem does not lie with chocolate per se, but the sugar within. Chocolate by nature is insanely bitter, so most chocolates you see in the candy aisle, even the bars that say 70 percent cacao, contain sugar. Bittersweet chocolate has about 45 percent sugar. Milk chocolate and white chocolate (not technically a chocolate) have a ton of sugar in them. Sugar, or more precisely its sweet taste, is the enemy of all dry wines, especially red wines.

Sweet foods block our ability to taste a wine’s fruit flavors. Even worse, it amplifies the bitter tannins found in all red wines. So when you dig into that chocolate mousse and take a sip of that Australian shiraz leftover from your entrée, you taste a bitter wine lacking in the fruit department. Yuck.

So what’s the deal with port wines? Ports are insanely sweet. A port’s sweetness—and the sweetness found in all dessert wines—counterbalance the unpleasant effects of a dessert’s sweetness and make for a much better combination. Does it have to be port with chocolate? No, sweet wines like brachetto d’acquis, not coincidentally my wine pick today, make great companions for chocolate.

Why is it that so many of us have bought into the hearsay that chocolate and red wine are a delight? I think the seduction of this decadent combination bowls over what is really going on in your mouth. You’re eating chocolate! You’re sipping wine! How could it be any better?

And it doesn’t have to be any better. If you like a glass of red zinfandel with your Valentine’s chocolate, don’t let me stop you. Better yet, why don’t you give your sweetie a bottle of cabernet sauvignon and a box of chocolates and conduct your own Valentine’s Day tasting to see if I’m wrong. But bring a bottle of the Rosa Regale, just in case I’m right.

• $23

• Two Thumbs Up

• Incredibly aromatic, it suggests freshly picked raspberries, strawberries and flowers. Tastes are similar with a hint of cling peach. The bubbles add a fun counterpoint to the moderate sweetness.



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