Wine and Chocolate – A Weighty Pair

Written by admin on April 5, 2009
Wine and Chocolate – A Weighty Pair

By Mark Noneman

I’m often asked for advice on pairing wine with food. As many of us know, chocolate is one of the key food groups (or we wish it was) and the same rules apply.

The basic rule is to match the “weight” of the chocolate with the weight of the wine. Some chocolate is rich without being sweet; a powerful and robust wine is best. As chocolates get sweeter, sweeten the wine–a bit more than the chocolate! As the chocolate gets lighter (e.g., white chocolate) go with fresh and flavorful white wines.

White chocolate is made primarily with cocoa butter but no other cocoa products and has a buttery, mellow taste. Try a Moscato d’Asti sparkling wine from Italy or a sparkling Muscat from France for a great match. The nutty taste of Sherry from Spain also goes well with the creamy texture.

Milk chocolate–a medium weight chocolate–needs a smooth medium weight wine. For a great white wine choice, go with a fresh and flavorful Riesling. A slightly sweet Sp├Ątlese would be ideal. Our own Oregon Pinot Noir-a smooth and fruity red wine-works beautifully too. And, of course, Muscat or late harvest wines (specialty dessert wines) work very well with milk chocolate.

For dark or bittersweet chocolate, match with big wines with their own hint of chocolate. Powerful and robust Cabernet Sauvignon from California or Washington and Zinfandels work perfectly with rich, dark chocolates. But don’t forget the big blended wines; they come from the US, Australia, South America, France, and Italy and they can complement the roasted bitterness of these chocolates.

I also like chocolate combined with fruit and nut flavors. Smooth and fruity wines like rich Merlots and Zinfandels enhance the fruit flavors. While Ports, Madeiras, and Sherrys taste wonderful with nutty flavors. There are even specially blended wines of Port with chocolate and Sherry with hazelnuts–absolutely heavenly with chocolates … or without!

No matter what, I always advise people to drink the wine they like! If you love Cabernet and want to drink it with white or milk chocolate, I say “go for it”! Life is too short to drink wine someone else recommends but you don’t like.

Mark Noneman is co-owner of Taste of Wine (, a retail wine shop and wine bar in Tualatin, Oregon.
He is also author of The Wine Tutor (, a wine blog for people who love wine but don’t know much about it.
Wine often seems intimidating to people. Thousands of dusty bottles, no information about the wines, and a snooty clerk (or “cork dork”) behind the counter all reinforce the perception that wine is mysterious and only for “serious” wine afficiandos.
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