Daring Pairing: Champagne and Chocolate!
August 18, 2011 11 Comments
Champagne and Chocolate
This one sounds like such a good idea! How Romantic! How Decadent! How Divine!
Now…stop right there! Come back to reality! This daring pairing is very controversial, which is a geeky way of saying that a lot of people love it, and a lot of people hate it. Just do a web search on “Champagne and Chocolate” – you will find a million articles saying how great it is, and a million articles saying how awful it can be. Just wait until Valentine’s Day…nearly every wine blogger on the planet will have something to say about truffles and bubbles.
The problem is…chocolate is a very hard food item to pair with wine. Chocolate is loaded with sweetness, fat, and bitterness…all taste components that are tough on wine. There certainly are wines that can handle chocolate as a pairing partner, but they tend to be red (to handle the intense flavor and the over-dose of fat), and sweet (to handle the intense sweetness of the chocoalte).
When I make a recommendation for wine with chocolate I usually suggest Ruby Porto, Late Harvest Zinfandel or Banyuls for Bittersweet Chocolate and Brachetto d’Acqui or Tawny Porto for Milk Chocolate. Hmmmm…none of these wines bear any resemblance to that most delicate of bubblies…the wine we call Champagne.
So…when we pair this bruiser-of-the-food-world up with the most delicate of wines, chaos ensues! To be technical about it, the wine’s acidity and bitterness come forward, the delicate flavors are crushed, and what you are left with is something that reminds you of fizzy mouthwash!
A Better Idea with Chocolate:
Demi-Sec or Doux Champagne…that’s sweet Champagne to you newbies, and it gives the wine the ability to handle the sweetness in the chocolate.
Rosé Champagne, Cava Rosado – pink bubbly has an extra dose of fruitiness, which allows the wine a better chance to still taste good when paired with something sweet.
Brachetto d’Acqui – Italy’s perfect match for chocolate: slightly sweet, slightly red, slightly bubbly.
Sparkling Shiraz – A far cry from Champagne, I know – but slightly sweet versions are a good choice to pair with chocolate.
In other words, if you want to pair bubbles with chocolate and want the wine to taste good…choose a sparkling wine with some sweetness or some pink or red color…at least the wine has a chance!