If people have mixed feelings about pairing chocolates with fine wine, odds are they had a pairing that wasn’t so successful. But when paired correctly, they can absolutely bring out the best in each other! With Easter coming up it is a great time to try some New Zealand wine and pair them alongside your Easter treats. The key is to ensure that your chocolate and wine have similar tannin levels and sweetness.
We have curated a special selection of three New Zealand wines to pair with your Easter chocolates, give it a go and tell us what you think!
How to pair chocolate with wine
Dark Chocolate (50-70% cocoa)
Dark chocolate usually has a bitter taste that is offset with notes of fruit or spice so they require bolder wines to pair with. Fuller bodied wines stand out here because they have higher alcohol levels, and similar flavor notes of fruit and spice. Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend toward berry flavors that can work well with chocolate and they are high in tannins without being too bitter. Our picks are the Clearview Cape Kidnappers Syrah 2017 (with 65% Chocolate) or the Vidal El Legado Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2016 (with 70% Chocolate).
Smooth or medium dark chocolates, such as those with around 50-60% cocoa, pair well with Syrah and Pinot Noir. But perhaps the best rule of thumb when it comes to wine and chocolate, is to indulge in what you love. Treat this as a guide, however if you find a pairing you enjoy – go with it!
Milk Chocolate (Around 45% cocoa)
Milk chocolates vary the most in taste, so make sure you taste your chocolate first. The best wines for milk chocolates are sweet whites or mild reds. Wines such as Rosé such as our Forrest Rose 2018 or even a light Pinot Noir like the Brightwater Nelson Pinot Noir 2017. If you’re looking for a white wine, the Ostler Blue House Vines Riesling 2010 pairs beautifully. Avoid anything too bold when pairing a red wine with milk chocolate, as the wine will overpower the chocolate.
70% (Extra Dark): Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Barolo & Malbec
60% (Medium Dark): Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chianti & Rhone
50% (Smooth Dark): Method Tradionelle, Riesling, Pinot Noir & Vintage Port
45% (Milk): Rosé, Port, Sherry & light Pinot Noir
How to ensure you are making the most of both worlds
To start: Serve the chocolate at room temperature and the wine at the recommended temperature for the varietal (general recommendation for white wines is 50-55°F and red wines is 60-65°F). Ensure you cleanse your palate with tepid water or a plain cracker before getting started.
Taste the wine: Swirl the wine around to coat the glass and release the aromas. Put your nose close to the glass and think about the scents you can detect. Now sip the wine, swirl in your mouth, and notice the various flavors. What notes are evident? When you’re done, cleanse your palate with some tepid water or a plain cracker.
Savor the chocolate: Break off a piece of chocolate, take in the aroma and identify the smells. Place the chocolate in your mouth and let it sit for a couple of seconds before consuming. What flavors do you detect? Describe the texture.
Now, more wine: Swirl the wine around your mouth so it blends with the chocolate, think about how the flavors of the wine and chocolate have now changed. Are any of the notes in the wine more evident?
And repeat! Ensure you cleanse your palate between tastings.