Tag Archives: wine pairing

How to Pair Chocolate With Wine

You’re planning a romantic evening for you and your honey, and you want to invite two of your best friends – food and wine. You need to get the right balance though. After all, you don’t want to wake up the next morning with a horrible hangover and a pooch. Which wine would go best with which chocolate? You need to investigate properly. You’ve decided to buy a huge box of Russell Stover assorted chocolates. The dark one might go well with the Cabernet, but you need to be sure. Just one more bite, a little more chocolate, and a little more wine. You wake up the next day surrounded by chocolate wrappers and an empty wine bottle.

Sure, experimentation is a great way to find the best wine and chocolate combinations, but it may not be the best idea to attempt to get it all figured out in one night. If you are a novice to the wine and chocolate marriage, it may be a good idea to give yourself a little bit of a starting point before taking on.

Chocolate and wine

The Chocolate Should Not Be Sweeter than the Wine You Pair It With
If you’re planning to pair a syrah or merlot with your chocolate, the wine should be as sweet as the chocolate. You’ll need to do an advanced taste test, but this shouldn’t be too much of a pain. If the wine is not as sweet as the chocolate, the wine will taste bitter, and you don’t want that.

Purchase Quality Chocolate
When pairing with wine, your chocolate should be of impeccable quality. No generic chocolate bars for this. Go for the premium ones instead. They cost more, but they’re worth it.

Pair According to the Darkness of the Chocolate
The general rule is that the darker the chocolate, the darker the wine, so a dark chocolate calls for red. If you are pairing with a white wine, an intense and fruity variety is the best match for the bittersweet and occasional acidic taste of chocolate.

Look for Wine with Smooth Tannins
Smooth wine goes with smooth chocolate. When it comes to pairing wine with chocolate, soft, rounded tannins work best.

Full-bodied Wines Go with Intense Chocolate
If ganache brownies are on the menu, make sure you have a wine that can stand up to them.

Go From Light to Dark
Obey the rules of wine-tasting by starting with the light stuff and intensifying the experience gradually. Begin your odyssey on a light note with white and milk chocolate, moving gradually to a medium intensity. End with the darkest and most bitter of chocolates, and matching your wines in ascending order of darkness and weight.

White chocolate and wine

White Chocolate
When it comes to white chocolate you want a wine that will pick up more buttery tones of the confection. Best bets include Chardonnay, Sherry, Muscat, or Moscato d’Asti.

Milk Chocolate
Dessert wines, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Reisling, Muscat and Pinot noir are all great matches for milk chocolate, as is champagne. Bubbly provides a crisp dry contrast for the creaminess of the milk chocolate, as the fruitiness of red wines may be cancelled out by high sugar levels, leaving the wine tasting bitter.

Dark Chocolate (50-70%)
Intense chocolate calls for intense wine. Savignon, Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir are all good complements for dark chocolate and a Chianti matches well with a chocolate with a 65% content of cocoa.

Bittersweet Chocolate (70%-100%)
Chocolate gourmands consider bittersweet chocolate the creme de la creme, so you need a wine that can take on the range of flavor. Think Beaujolais, Shiraz, Bordeaux, Orange Muscat, and Zinfandel for the bitter stuff. Also, feel free to try a sparkling wine or champagne with a variety of chocolates. Dessert wines are also generally well suited to chocolate.

How did your wine-and-chocolate pairing go? Let us know once you’ve hit the sweet spot – we’d love to hear all about it!

Drink Up…It’s National Merlot Day

Merlot wine It all started with the 2004 movie, “Sideways” when the fun loving Jack, played by Thomas Haden Church asks the uptight Miles, played by Paul Giametti to join him for a glass of Merlot. Miles replies by saying, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving; I am not drinking any effing Merlot.” What followed was what became known as the “Sideways Effect on Merlot.” Following the movies release, grocery store sales of the wine continued to fall at 1.4% a year after 2005, with many producers blaming the movie.

But, hey, what’s wrong with Merlot? So it may not have a complex flavor, but it is still a highly drinkable and appealing wine. What’s wrong with being easy? If Miles thinks he’s too good to drink it, he’s got self esteem problems. November 7 is National Merlot Day, so if you like Merlot, go out and show off how much self esteem you have.

What is Merlot?
Merlot means “Little Blackbird” in French and is second only to Cabernet Sauvignon as America’s most popular choice of grape. Often described as ripe, elegant and soft, Merlots are easy drinking reds that pair well with food and are also great alone. Because of their approachability, these wines are often recommended to the novice wine drinker as their first red.

merlot wine being poured History of Merlot
The grape was first used to make wine in the 1700’s in the Bordeaux region when it was labeled by a French winemaker as an ingredient in his wine blend. Following this, the grape began to gain popularity throughout Bordeaux and was often celebrated for its ability to bring softness to Cabernet Sauvignon, the favorite grape of the Bordeaux region. In fact, the pairing was so well-liked that it became the main component of the famous and coveted Bordeaux blend, celebrated today by so many of the world’s wine connoisseur.

The Spread of Merlot
With the increasing popularity of the Bordeaux wine, came the increasing popularity of Merlot. Upon its arrival in California in the mid 19th century, American winemakers began to leave the Cabernet Sauvignon out of the blend, making wines completely consisting of Merlot. The grape was easy to grow and American enjoyed it for its low levels of tannin. From its California beginnings, the grape has also taken root in Washington State and New York,
The alcohol content of Merlot is usually at least 13.5%, but can be closer to 14.5% if grown in California, Chile or Australia, in which the weather is warmer.

Merlot with meat pairing Food Pairings
When it comes to foods that complement Merlot, the options are many. Cabernet- like Merlots are similar to Cabernet Sauvignon in that they both of well with charred and grilled meat. Fruitier Merlots with higher acidity are closer to Pinot Noir and will make a good accompaniment for mushroom-based dishes, salmon, radicchio and chards. The lighter bodied Merlots will pair well with shellfish, such as scallops of prawns, especially when dropped in protein-rich foods like prosciutto or bacon. Strong and blue veined cheeses are poor choices when drinking Merlot, as they tend to overwhelm the wine’s natural fruit flavor, while spicy food can bring out the perception of alcohol and make the Merlot taste more bitter and tannic.

Bottom Line? Real men (and women) drink Merlot! So if you love Merlot, go out and indulge this November 7th and get back to us when you feel somewhat human again and let us know how it went! We love to get your input and comments. (Always drink responsibly!)