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The Basics to Pairing Wine and Chocolate

Wine and chocolate are as romantic as a bed and breakfast in wine country but despite the pairing’s perfect sounding notion, matching these flavors can be a little tricky. Luckily, experimenting is always fun, and each year we dive right in, tasting the delectable treats from Roberta’s Chocolates in Denver looking for perfect pairings for our annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend each February.

Here are some simple guidelines to make your wine and chocolate matching successful:

Dark chocolate is bittersweet and rich, which means you need a wine that can highlight the sweet and match the body. This leaves two seemingly obvious choices: Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Look for structured versions with tannins and layers of fruit hidden beneath. The tannins will match the bitter, allowing rich fruits to take over.

Milk chocolate is creamy and lighter, meaning reds will still work well here, just as long as they are dialed a bit. Think medium-plus bodied, fruit-forward wines that are soft on the tannins. Pinot Noirs come to mind from the red spectrum, but the creaminess also opens doors into dessert and sparkling wines.

White chocolate (technically not chocolate at all) is a sexy partner to wine. Bubbles can work well here, including slightly effervescent wines such as a stellar Moscato d’ Asti. In general, though, look for lighter-bodied wines — whites — with a little sweet to it. Rieslings and Gewürztraminers are a good choice, and the creaminess in this chocolate can also play with a buttery, creamy chardonnay that’s been oaked.

Fruits and nuts change everything, introducing an added element of complexity. Pair to the bigger flavor first. So if the chocolate overshadows a dusting of nuts, find a wine for the chocolate (see above). When the nuttiness takes center stage, you’ll need to match flavor to the nuts. Aged ports often pick up a nut flavor, making this a great choice. With strong fruit flavors, find the same taste in the wine.

Ports, in general, can work with just about any chocolate out there. Just be sure the dessert isn’t sweeter than the port you’re serving.

For more:

The 5th annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend is Feb. 12-13 at the Winery, 4640 Pecos St. Tickets are $20 and include four truffles and a special fudge from Roberta’s with wine pairings.

Coming soon:

The pairings for Wine & Chocolate Weekend

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