Let’s talkabout wine and chocolate pairing!
Be careful, this pairing must not be taken lightly: the pairing must allow both to master the bitterness that characterizes the cocoa as well as its fatness, its texture while playing with the rich aromatic palette of the wines to sublimate the two products. And yes! Wine and chocolate are no joke.
The diversity of chocolates, its terroirs, its preparations as well as its possible fillings (whether exotic, fruity or spicy), allows for astonishing combinations, ranging from dry white wines, to sweet white wines, or even sweet sparkling wines, passing through natural sweet wines as well as dry red wines. Indeed, chocolate is like wine, no two are alike, they all have their own particularities which depend on their variety (as for a grape variety), their terroir (idem in wine) and their methods of cultivation and production.
Chocolate in its natural state
– Dark chocolate 80%: go for a natural sweet wine, the residual sugar of these wines will contrast with the bitterness of the cocoa and their richness and silkiness will highlight the complexity of the chocolate without overshadowing it. For example, you can go for a muté wine such as Maury. It can also be paired with a sweeter wine such as a red Chambolle-Musigny.
– 100% dark chocolate: here the wine may not be your best ally, the bitterness of the chocolate will totally attenuate the aromas of the wine, so prefer a lightly peated whisky like Japanese whisky.
– Milk chocolate: Favouring wines with little sugar would be disgusting. On the contrary, you should find a contrast between this sweet and sugary chocolate by matching it with a dry and sharp white wine with a powerful aromatic palette such as a Viré-Clessé du Maconnais or a red wine rich in tannins and alcohol, but with an aftertaste of raspberries, spices and tobacco such as a Mercurey from the Côte Chalonnaise…
– White chocolate: This is a chocolate made only of cocoa paste, so it is very sweet and has no tannins. Bring a little freshness by serving it with a fresh and fruity white wine that will revitalize the fat and sugar of this chocolate, a Chablis for example.
Pocked Pear with Red Wine and Chocolate
– For the poached pears: Conference pear(s): 6 pieces, Red wine: 100 cl, Star anise: 2 pieces, Cinnamon stick(s): 1 piece, Powdered sugar: 200 g, Fennel seed(s): 3 tsp.
– For the crunchy crumble: Crushed walnut kernel(s): 20 g, Whole hazelnut(s): 20 g, Slivered almond(s): 20 g, Spéculoos: 5 piece(s), Wheat flour: 80 g, Soft butter: 80 g, Fleur de sel: 3 pinch(s)
– For the dark chocolate coulis: Dark chocolate: 100 g, Full cream: 10 cl, Semi-skimmed milk: 10 cl
For pocked pears:
– Wash the pears.
– Peel the pears, keeping the stems. Push an apple corer into the heart of the fruit from underneath, about 5 cm, and remove the core, including the seeds. Cut off the base of the pear so that it can stand upright.
– Bring the red wine, spices and sugar to the boil in a saucepan.
– Poach the pears for 25 minutes over a low heat (check with a small knife: it should sink in without resistance).
– Allow the pears to cool to room temperature.
– Strain the juice and reduce it to a syrupy texture. Dip the pears in the juice until they are halfway through, then leave them to drain on a rack.
For the Crumble:
Keep the butter at room temperature to obtain a “soft” butter. Mix all the ingredients with your fingertips, then bake in the oven at 190°C for 15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool, then crumble coarsely with your hands.
For the chocolate sauce:
Bring the cream and milk to the boil. Pour over the crushed chocolate and mix to obtain a smooth sauce.
– Creamy, chocolate-rich desserts (ganache, fondant…): Pair these desserts with a full-bodied red wine, its tannins will confront the power of the cocoa while highlighting the intensity of the chocolate. The richer your dessert is in chocolate, the more you can afford to pair it with full-bodied wines to create a contrast, for example a Pinot Noir from the Côtes de Nuits, powerful, warm, generous and rich in tannins. You can also pair this type of dessert with oxidative wines aged in barrels which will develop a nice smoothness and chocolate-like aromas.
– A white chocolate and exotic fruit mousse: for this type of dessert, it is necessary to echo the fruit aromas of the dessert and propose lively aromatic wines with an exotic fruit nose, for example a white Pouilly-Fuissé from Maconnais.
– A chocolate dessert with candied fruit such as orange peel, dried fruit, sweet spices or notes of mocha and coffee can be paired with an advanced wine that develops aromatic notes and complexity in the tone of the dessert.
– With a chocolate dessert accompanied by red fruit you can serve a dry, fruity red wine with aromas of berries, black fruit and flowers, such as a pinot noir from Côte Beaune or a Frappato from Sicily.
More surprising but enjoyable: Salty chocolate dishes
Here, opt for red wines with a nice tannic structure, these wines go well with sweet and sour dishes with a chocolate sauce. For example a Côte-Rotie (give typicality), a Gevrey Chambertin or a Languedoc wine (rich in aromas and power).
Beware that drinking sparkling wines at the end of a meal with a dessert may cause some discomfort as the acidity may be amplified by the sugar in the desserts. However, the option of sparkling wines should not be ruled out as this can be a particularly interesting pairing, as it can contrast with the texture of the chocolate (which is rather greasy in the mouth) and “de-grease” the mouth and stimulate the taste buds. It is then perhaps necessary to favour sparkling wines that are richer in sugar, such as bruts and demi-sec (which will be sweeter, despite their names, than plain or extra-brut). If you don’t like overly sweet wines, then go for older vintages, with more discreet acidity and aromas of dried fruit and roasting. These old vintages will go wonderfully well with chocolates with empyreumatic aromas or chocolate and almond desserts.