These easy wine and chocolate pairing tips make it fun and simple to plan the perfect tasting party or romantic evening at home!
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Love wine? Can't resist chocolate? Then, this post is for you!
I remember the first time I tasted wine and chocolate together. My husband and I love wine tasting and will do it any opportunity we get. On one trip to Seattle, we stopped by a winery on Bainbridge Island (which is just across the bay from the city). As we finished up our tasting, the owner pulled out a bottle of port and a few pieces of chocolate.
It was a match made in heaven, and I've loved pairing wine and chocolate ever since. I even include a little chocolate whenever I put together a cheese plate ... which I always pair with wine, of course!
Easy Wine and Chocolate Pairing Tips
Pairing wine and chocolate can be kind of challenging. Chocolate and wine have complex characteristics, and they both contain tannins (the thing that makes you tongue go dry when drinking certain wines), which can lead to clashing flavors. The wrong pairing can actually taste pretty gross!
It is possible to create amazing wine and chocolate pairings though (plus, it's just fun to try!), so if you're wondering what wine goes with chocolate keep reading for some easy pairing ideas.
I'm also sharing tips for hosting a chocolate and wine tasting party, and I created a free printable tasting card that you can download, too!
Tips for Choosing Chocolate to Pair with Wine
Let's start with the chocolate!
For a wine and chocolate tasting party, you'll want to choose a variety of chocolates with different levels of sweetness, cacao, and intensity. The higher the percentage of cacao, the more intense tasting and less sweet your chocolate will be. You'll find this percentage listed on the front of many chocolate bars.
Selecting a variety of chocolates will allow you to compare and contrast how sweeter chocolate (like milk chocolate) and more intense chocolate (like a bittersweet, dark chocolate) pair with different wines.
I recommend starting with three different chocolates: a milk chocolate, a medium dark chocolate (50-69% cacao), and an extra dark chocolate (70% cacao and up). You could also stick to one type of chocolate (like three milk chocolate or three dark chocolate bars, all from different brands). For my chocolate and wine tasting, I chose:
- Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate
- Chocolino Double Dark Chocolate (55% cacao) - I can't find this one online.
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark (72% cacao)
What Wine Goes Well with Chocolate?
Now that you've chosen your chocolate, it's time to select the wine. And that leads us to the big question ... what wine goes well with chocolate? And should you pair red wine with chocolate or white wine with chocolate? Or both? Ha ha ...
Selecting the perfect wine can be difficult, but there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your selection easier. First, you want to match the intensity of the wine to that of the chocolate (pair lighter chocolates with lighter wines, and vice versa).
As a general rule, your wine should be sweeter than your chocolate. So sweeter chocolate varieties, like milk chocolate, call for a wine that's quite sweet. And an intense, dark chocolate that isn't very sweet can be paired with a drier wine. It's often easier to pair milk chocolate with wine than it is to pair more intense dark chocolate with wine, simply because milk chocolate has a less complex flavor profile.
Wine and chocolate pairing is more of an art than a science, so the most important thing is to have fun experimenting! Here are a few pairing ideas to get you started:
- White Chocolate - Chardonnay, Champagne, Reisling, Sherry, Ice Wines, or Moscato d'Asti
- Milk Chocolate - Reisling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Port, Madeira, other dessert wines (I paired mine with Chateau St. Michelle Reisling.)
- Medium, Dark Chocolate - Merlot, Pinot Noir, Petit Syrah, Port and other fortified wines (I paired mine with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot.)
- Intense, Dark Chocolate - Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Bordeaux, Port and other fortified wines (I paired mine with Menage a Trois Dark Red Blend.)
How to Host a Wine and Chocolate Tasting Party
Now that you have a few ideas for how to pair wine and chocolate, wouldn't it be fun to throw a tasting party? I love the idea of hosting a chocolate and wine pairing party for girls night, a get together with friends, or just a romantic night at home with your sweetie.
Here's what you'll need to host your own wine and chocolate tasting party:
The first thing you might want to do is to send a fun wine-themed invitation to set the mood. Minted has some really fun options for wine and chocolate party invites (both printed and evites)!
Then, you'll want to choose your wines and chocolate pairings. A good place to start is three types of chocolate and three types of wine.
Break your chocolate into bite-size pieces—the chocolate should be just big enough to get a taste—then place the pieces on small plates.
I created labels for the different types of chocolate, using cardstock and a Sharpie.
My handwriting could use a little practice ... ha ha!
Free Printable Wine and Chocolate Tasting Cards
I created also created free printable wine and chocolate tasting cards. Scroll to the end of the post for the downloadable file.
The tasting cards print two to a page, so cut them in half.
You'll want enough cards to keep track of each wine and chocolate pairing. There are three spaces on each card, so if you have three wines and three chocolates, you'll need room for nine different tastings (three cards for each person).
I attached my cards together with ribbon. To do the same, punch a hole in the corner of the cards. Fold the ribbon in half, then pass the two ribbon ends through the hole. Pass the two ends through the looped end and pull tight.
You could also leave the cards loose or attach them together with staple or brad.
I like how the ribbon makes them look fun and festive though.
Once everything is ready, arrange the table for your wine and chocolate party.
Start with the lightest wines and chocolates on the left and end with the most intense ones on the right. For example, I arranged my table with milk chocolate and riesling on the left, medium chocolate and merlot in the middle, and darkest chocolate and a red blend on the right.
Add the labels to the chocolate, then add the wine glasses, small plates and/or napkins for guests, and the wine tasting cards (along with some pens).
I also recommend including water and plain crackers on your table. A bite of cracker or sip of water will help your guests clear their palate between tastings or if they taste something they don't like.
Tasting the Wine and Chocolate
There are a few ways to do your wine and chocolate tasting:
- Taste each individual chocolate only with its matching wine (for example, milk with riesling, medium dark with merlot, etc.).
- Try each chocolate with each wine (for example, milk with riesling, merlot, and red blend).
- Free for all ... ha ha!
However you decide to do the tasting, keep in mind that it's best to move from lighter bodied wines/chocolates to bolder wines/chocolates.
To begin the tasting, try a sip of wine. Then, enjoy a bite of chocolate, and finally, another sip of wine.
As you do the tasting, ask yourself and your guests a few questions:
- What are the characteristics of this wine? Or this chocolate?
- Does this chocolate complement this wine?
- How do the flavors of the chocolate change the flavors of the wine (and vice versa)?
- Why do you think this pairing works (or doesn't work)?
Take notes about the different pairings as you go along and share your thoughts with your friends.
Everyone will have their own opinions on what works together and what doesn't, and that is part of what makes holding a chocolate and wine pairing party fun!
My favorite pairing was the milk chocolate and reisling!
I'd never had chocolate and white wine together before, so it was a pleasant surprise.
I wanted to keep this wine and chocolate pairing party affordable and accessible, so I purchased wine and chocolate that you could find at any grocery store. Of course, the sky is the limit as to how much you can to spend, and it's fun to seek out options like Port at wine stores, too.
Let me know if you try these easy wine and chocolate pairing ideas ... I'd love to hear what you think!
And if you're looking for more unique entertaining tips, you can check out all of my party ideas here.
To download the free printable Wine and Chocolate Tasting Card, click anywhere on the image below.
For best results, print at full size on cardstock.
Have you ever paired wine and chocolate? What were your favorite combinations?