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Wine enthusiasts and experts have long maintained that chocolate and wine are incompatible. Lately, this notion has been challenged successfully. The argument was that chocolate’s intense flavour overwhelms wine’s. Since wine’s role is to enhance food, the match was considered impossible. It is now two decades since changing wine technology helped produce intensely flavoured wines that stand up to chocolate and other highly flavoured foods.

     When matching chocolate and wine, the latter must refresh the palate after the sweetness of the former. The idea in matching chocolate and wine is to cerate a harmony that elevates both food and drink to the next level of taste experience.

First, you must consider the intensity of chocolate. There is milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark, bitter, flavoured, liqueur-filled and soft chocolate a k a truffles. All possess varying degrees of flavour a k a umami.

     Milk and dark chocolates generally go well with high end Chilean Cabernets that exude and possess mint and cassis aromas and flavours. They are strong enough to withstand the intensity of chocolate’s aftertaste, Banyuls, a fortified red wine from south-western France close to the Spanish border, goes very well with Valrhona dark chocolate wafers.

     Mediterranean dessert wines like sherries, marsala, madeira and Mavrodaphne from Patras in Greece happen to be excellent matches with Swiss milk chocolate, particularly with Lindt or Cailler. Most of these wines are excellent value to boot.

     High-acid icewines from Ontario and eisweins from Germany or Austria can be successfully paired with milk chocolates. The level of acidity depends on the vintage.

Late bottled vintage ports and dark chocolate wafers harmonize beautifully, producing a spicy and uplifting food experience.

     Fruit wines enjoy now   popularity with wine consumers. Southbrook’s Framboise, raspberry and golden raspberry have an incredible affinity with dark chocolates. Iced apple wines, particularly that of Magnotta possesses sufficiently deep flavours to complement dark chocolate.

     When trying to match chocolate and wine, one must pay attention to the brand and manufacturer; choose Lindt, Cailler, nestle (Swirtzerland); Valrhona (France); Belgian Choloatier, Roger’s, Splendid, B. Callebaut, Eitelbaum (Canada), Godiva, Manon, Neuhaus (Belgium).

Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu


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