As romance fills the air, so does the yearning for some of the best love pairings ever. This month, friends and lovers will gather together for sweet sensations that act as aphrodisiacs, and at the top of that sexy list is the pairing of wine and chocolate. But before you enjoy this dynamic duo, learn how to make the best of your tasty experience. Which wines and chocolates enhance the sweetness of each other? What types of treats and foods complement wine and chocolate? And best of all, what makes your taste buds hum?
A study by an Italian research group showed there is a correlation between wine (especially red) and increased love thoughts for women. Wine Folly describes this luscious pairing: “Chocolate is the confectionery match to wine. Perhaps this is because the process of making chocolate is very similar to wine. Since both cocoa beans and wine are fermented with the very same type of yeast, it’s no wonder there are so many wine and chocolate lovers!”
So, let’s get started. Here are some suggestions from top sommeliers across the country:
Juliette Pope from NYC says the key is to choose a sweet wine. Stay away from dry wines for chocolate and stick to a classic vintage-style port from Italy or France. For less costly, lower alcohol options, try a sweet sparkler like France’s unique Cerdon du Bugey Rosé or Italy’s Moscato d’Asti, or more robust reds like French Banyuls from the Rocky Mountain coast.
Christopher Sky Westmoreland from Oregon suggests matching the weight of the chocolate dessert with the weight of the wine. He recommends Banyuls from southern France for rich and creamy chocolate desserts, or Maury, a similar-style, generally less expensive wine which pairs well with chocolate combined with berries. If you’re looking for a match with champagne, try a rosé demi-sec (sweet) or doux (very sweet) dessert wine.
A few tips on pairing your favorite chocolates: White Chocolate. Recommended wines: Rosé Port, Ice Wine, Muscat, Orange Muscat, Moscato d’Asti, Sweet Tokaji, Vintage Port, Lambrusco (Dolce or Amabile), Brachetto d’Acqui. Great with macadamia nuts, especially in cookies.
Milk Chocolate. Recommended wines: Moscatel de Setubal, Montilla-Moriles, PX Sherry, Creamy Sherry, Rasteau, Aged Vintage Port, Rutherglen Muscat. Match with chocolate cake or truffles with chocolate ganache… heaven!
Dark Chocolate. Recommended wines: Vin Santo, Port, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Banyuls, Maury, or after-dinner liqueur Chinato. Enjoy with chocolate-covered strawberries or a chocolate bar in small, bite-sized pieces. Tip: Listen for the “snap” when you break the bar. The crisper the break, the better tempered your chocolate. Don’t bite on or chew the chocolate, just place it on your tongue and let it melt… straight into your heart.
Peanut Butter Cups. Yes, your favorite chocolate peanut butter cups are serious business when it comes to pleasure. With all nutty chocolates such as almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts, look for a wine that accentuates the nutty flavors. For an unforgettable pairing, try them with Amontillado Sherry, Oloroso Sherry, or Madeira.
So – there you have it! If you’re looking for the reasons people believe wine and chocolate are aphrodisiacs, it has been suggested it’s because of the presence of amines, made with natural yeasts, correlating to an increased love drive and alertness. Now before you go hog-wild, as with all things, be conscious of your health history and beverage consumption. Enjoy your pleasures – moderation is key!
Abella Carroll is a freelance writer