Wine and chocolate isn’t something you see on this site very often. It’s a pairing that you find often – especially at this time of year. But, if I’m being frank, it’s one of my least favourite pairings. There’s just something about putting these two things together that don’t quite gel. Red wine and dark chocolate seems to amplify some of the more astringent characteristics in a red wine. So when I was asked by Stübbe Chocolate to come up with some pairings for their new chocolate blends coming out I put my cards on the table … but still came up with some pairings I thought would work.
If you have never been to Stübbe Chocolate at Dupont and Christie (653 Dupont St) it is worth going out of your way. This family run shop sells just about anything you can imagine when it comes to truffles or bonbons. But, my favorite item is the chocolate bars. I make the trek to this shop every few months to get my fix on chocolate. If you’re a wine lover, even if you don’t like to pair chocolate with wine, it’s fascinating to see how the concept of terroir applies to the world of chocolate. You can buy bars with cocoas sourced from different regions of the world and labeled as such. My personal favorite is a dark milk chocolate bar, so I was very excited to hear that Choclatier Daniel was coming out with two brand new cocoa blends with some new bars just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The two new bars are called Verliebt (70.9% Cocoa) and Verspielt (41% Cocoa). Verliebt is German for ‘in love’ and Verspielt is german for ‘playful’. These bars are priced at $8.00 each.
Here are the wines I attempted to match with these gorgeous chocolate bars.
First, I suggested Sparkling wine – more specifically the Chateau des Charmes Sparkling Brut. Sparkling is one of my go to wines to pair with just about anything. The high acidity and citrus notes help keep the palate cleansed and ready for your next morsel. But this strategy is basically keeping the wine and the chocolate out of each other’s way.
Second, I suggested a full bodied Californian wine. The Ravenswood Old Vines Zinfandel is affordable and crowd pleasing. It’s bursting with notes of smoke, strawberry, cherry, black currant, and blackberry. It’s brimming with such ripe fruit that it almost comes off as sweet on the palate, but it’s a bone dry wine. The ripe fruit in the wine is married to the smoky and cocoa notes in this pairing. It helps amplify great parts of both the wine and the chocolate – but there is still some of that bitter finish that makes an appearance on the finish.
My Third, and best suggestion was Baco Noir from Henry of Pelham. This actually changed my own mind about how to pair wine and chocolate because this pairing was fantastic. The very ripe fruit flavours are blueberry, blackberry, black currant and a cocoa note. Baco also has higher acidity than the Zinfandel and the acidity from this pairing kept the bitter notes at bay, With a piece of the dark chocolate in your mouth and a sip of this wine it amplifies the best parts of both. You can expect the chocolate to taste more smoky and rich, and you can expect the wine to have its fruit flavours amplified.
Now you may notice that I focused on the dark chocolate here. Being frank, it’s because the wine pairing just worked with the dark chocolate, but not so much with the dark milk chocolate. I’ll guarantee that this isn’t my last time talking about this subject but one thing is certain… you should try all the chocolate and wines mentioned in this post even if you don’t sample them together.