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
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.
• 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.