Interview by MAGGIE F. FRANCISCO
July 7 sees chocolate lovers celebrating World Chocolate Day so what better way to savor this much-loved confectionary than by pairing it with yet another treat—wine.
Wine and chocolate. A pair as quintessential as peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs. Nothing completes a day like this perfect pairing. But the truth is, while enjoying these two indulgent treats together may seem like a no-brainer, there is actually an art to pairing them.
An expert in curating that perfect chemistry between chocolates and wine is CMV Txokolat general manager Christian Valdes. He explains, “Whether you are a big fan of chocolate or not, the truth is [chocolates] are just versatile. It can be sweet, it can be savory. You don’t even need to eat it—sculpt with it, create art with it, you can even use it as skin care. There are so many applications you can use for chocolates that can be appealing to anyone.”
Talking more about chocolate’s versatility, he says how it can be paired with just about anything, from ganache to caramel to fruits to seeds. The list goes on and on. But is it really that easy to pair anything with chocolates? How so?
“What makes it easy to pair them is that chocolates have so many origins,” Valdes says. “It depends on how it’s processed, how it’s grown, what kind of soil its grown, what kind of atmosphere it’s grown it—there are so many factors to consider.” He cites an example dark chocolates grown from Peru. It has a tropical fruit characteristic, which may pair very well with Chardonnay, which has hints of pineapple, cinnamon, and coconut.
Simply put, Valdes shares that pairing chocolates with wine is quite similar to how you would pair any wine with a food dish. As with any food and wine pairing, the aim is to complement or enhance the flavor.
As a general rule of thumb, Valdes advises, “you don’t want to get chocolate that would be counteractive and that would cloud the flavor the wine. Especially when you’re dealing with wine that’s delicate.”
While the 31-year-old chocolatier and I did agree that these pairings are almost always subjective to some extent and may still come down to a matter of personal taste, I was still curious what one needs to think about when coming up with the “perfect match.”
This lush and decadent type of chocolate has grown more and more in popularity due to its health benefits and bitter taste that people are getting more accustomed to.
Valdes recommends richer, full-bodied wines, such as Spanish wines Tempranillo and Rioja. The robust aromas and intense flavors of these full-bodied wines will complement the bitter taste of the chocolate. “Typically, the red wines have those tannins. He continues, “They do have that bitterness that’s similar to the dark chocolate that can actually complement the taste so that other flavors like black cherry, bell pepper, black peppercorn, or plums, would really shine through.”
Other popular choices are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Malbec.
White chocolates are known for its delicacy and sweetness. Valdes shares, “Give me Sauvignon Blanc with white chocolates.” He goes on to explain, “The wine’s hint of hazelnut, and honey notes, and dried apricot notes go really well with white chocolates. Especially because it has that creaminess from the milk solids and has that sweetness that bring out flavor of the wine.”
Valdes also recommends Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Albariño.
Sitting somewhere between dark chocolates and white chocolates, Valdes says milk chocolates may pair well with light-bodied and sweet wines. Although this chocolate may be considered an “entry-level,” with its gentle flavor and creamy texture, its composition and flavor profile make it easy to pair with wine. “You can pair it with Malbec. The milk chocolate can bring out the liquorice notes of a Malbec.”
Other wines that taste good with milk chocolates are Pinot Noir, Shiraz ,and Tempranillo.
Valdes has shared a glimpse as to what specific kinds of wines pairs well with the common types of chocolate. He also reminds us to do this pairing with chocolates and wines from a reputable source and to have someone with you who can walk you through the journey.
The world of chocolate and wine pairing proves to be diverse and full of possibilities. Though we are celebrating World Chocolate Day, let’s face it—you’re not going to wait for a special occasion to do this, right? Whether there is a day to commemorate or you’re simply trying to find new ways to enjoy chocolates, just remember to have fun with it. Though there are a handful of ways to go really wrong with wine and chocolate pairings, there are even more ways to go right.
Consider this your excuse to stock up on both and get to experimenting.
Just a Sip
One way to ensure you enjoy your wine with chocolates to have a mesmerizing array of choices when it comes to wine glasses. It tastes best when it is allowed to breathe. We drink wine from wine glasses and not from normal cups because they are designed to accentuate the aroma and flavor of wine by letting it breathe. Because wine glasses come in a plethora of shapes and sizes, pouring wine up to the widest part of the bowl, instead of obsessing over the exact quantity (ml) of each pour, will ensure the wine tastes best for that particular glass.
Here are a few suggestions of wine glasses you can add to your collection.