Two feel goods: chocolate and vino
They say that chocolate contains an ingredient that triggers dopamine in the brain, thereby giving chocolate eaters a natural high and an overall sense of well-being. They don’t say that about vino, but it doesn’t matter — we don’t need any dopamine study to know that a really wonderful glass of wine always makes everything better.
So imagine a perfect pairing, a union of two exquisite items: beautiful chocolate and incredible wine, and then imagine how wonderful you feel after imbibing both. However, before going off on a chocolate binge coupled with a long wine drinking weekend, consider what might go with what on that slippery slope that could easily tip into outright decadence.
It does make a difference.
At its simplest, lighter chocolates pair best with lighter wines and more complex chocolate goes better with a larger wine. Light chocolate by the way, does not refer to whether the chocolate is white or milk chocolate, but more to the feel or heft of the sweet.
One way to approach the match is to find chocolate that contains flavors much like those of the wine, that is, nutty, fruity or spicy types of chocolates go down smoothly with wines bearing the same description. To confuse the issue a bit, a determined pairing of contrasting tastes can work well too, as in a light chardonnay paired against a 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate.
Many so-called experts suggest drinking only fortified wines with chocolate because the sweet wines match the candy’s sweetness. However, the combo can be overbearing and so, operating on the premise that there are no absolutes, it’s really about becoming and remaining conscious in the decision to match the chocolate to the wine.
So some general rules help. For example, Champagne doesn’t tend to work well with chocolate because it’s dry and the chocolate makes the Champagne taste bitter. Bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolates can handle the larger wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Bourdeaux, Shiraz and Zinfandel.
Milk chocolate deserves an equally sweet wine, so look to dessert or fortified wines for good matches. White chocolates work well with those whites we all know and love: Gewurtztramminer, Riesling or Blancs. And of course, the more elements thrown into the pairing the more attention the choices warrant. Nuts, creams, spices within the chocolate deserve the same tastes coming from the matching wines.
The point is that, like many a life decision, there’s no hard rule to go by. It’s more often about paying attention to one’s senses and to the texture, smell and feel of the elements in play.
And that’s the also the point: Play with what sounds good. Experiment. Enjoy the process and, from experimentation and experience comes the Bingo!-the surprise, the joy of matching that perfectly chosen wine to the equally wonderful chocolate.
Word o’ the Week
Madagascar Chocolate: All good chocolate begins with cocoa. Madagascar cocoa is considered the best in the world, with beans grown on chemical free plantations and exported to chocolatiers intent on creating the very best chocolate in the world.
One Winning Wine Tasting
On Saturday, Feb. 20, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Riverfront Park in downtown Denver will host a Chocolate Extravaganza Tasting tour. The walking tour explores downtown Denver’s best chocolate experiences and includes a connoisseur’s lesson in chocolate tasting, the best chocolate chip cookies, brownies and cupcakes in town, and pairing lessons. Walkers will learn to combine chocolate with tea, wine and spices.
Cost is $49. Call 303.775.1538 for further information.