Wine and chocolate pairing events are becoming more and more popular at Long Island wineries, and not just for Valentine’s Day. Frankly, I was skeptical at first — wine and cheese, yes, but wine and chocolate?
I’ve never attended a wine and chocolate tasting, but after talking to Roxanne Browning, founder of Exotic Chocolate Tasting (exoticchocolatetasting.com), I am more ready to try pairing them. Chocolate actually has a lot in common with wine – they can both can be quite complex in flavors and nuances, and simultaneously sweet, bitter, acidic and fruity.
Roxanne’s an interesting lady. The former mayor of Northport, she’s also had other careers and now devotes herself to chocolate. She claims to be New York’s only “chocolate sommelier” and has traveled to the Amazon to live with the cacao growing communities.
All chocolates are not compatible with all wines and vice versa. Some guidelines:
Since chocolate itself has an intense flavor, choose wines that also have intense flavors, that can stand up to the chocolate.
The chocolate should not be sweeter than the wine. So generally stick to the more neutral or even bitter chocolates, rather than sweet.
White wine goes well with white chocolate. The creaminess of white chocolate, which is almost 100% cocoa butter, cuts through the acidity of the white wine.
The darker the chocolate, the more likely it will be to taste good with red wine. Part of the reason for this is that chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao has less sugar.
The darker chocolates, with deep-roasted flavors, pair well with wines that themselves are dark and toasty. But you don’t want a red wine with too much tannin.
Merlot, with its softer, rounder tannins and layers of cocoa and mocha, often pair well with chocolate.
A lighter red wine generally pairs better with a lighter chocolate, such as one with a 65 percent cocoa content, while a heavier, fuller-bodied red wine might be a better match for a chocolate with 75 percent cocoa.
Pair sweeter chocolates and chocolate desserts with sweet port-style wines and sweet late-harvest reds.
Exotic Chocolate Tasting will be hosting a tasting of twelve organic, Free Trade chocolates called at (chocolate tasting only, no wines) on July 9 at 4 p.m.