Facing Up to the Big No-No: What wine to serve with chocolate (May 16, 2002)
Oil and water. Wine and chocolate. The accepted wisdom is that
wine and chocolate should not under any circumstance be put together.
All the wine books tell you so. But, like all truisms, it needs
to be tested from time to time.
Conte Pieralvise Serègo Aligheri delights in perplexing
wine writers who visit his Valpolicella estate in Veneto by offering
them After Eight mints with his Amarone (it works!).
Another man who is in favour of marrying wine and chocolate is
Bernard Callebaut, master chocolatier, who began making his Belgian
chocolates in Calgary nearly twenty years ago. Three years ago Callebaut
won the top prize at the International.Festival of Chocolate in
Roanne, France, the first North American to do so.
"They judge the range of products you sell," Callebaut
told me. "I also won in the category of matching wine with
chocolate. I put together a chocolate with nougat, buttercream and
caramel with a Black Muscat dessert wine from California."
to Wine Matching
- Best all-round solution:
- Brut Champagne
- Coffee Liqueur
- Orange liqueur
- Fruit eaux-de-vie
- White Chocolate:
- Ruby Port
- Recioto della Valpolicella
- Late Harvest Zinfandel
- Cream Sherry
- Milk Chocolate:
- Black Muscat
- Orange Muscat
- Samos Muscat
- Ruby/LBV port
- Dark Chocolate:
- Petite Sirah
I asked Bernard Callebaut for his thoughts in general on putting
wine and chocolate together.
"There's not much difference from choosing wines for food,"
he contends. "You have to see which chocolate you're going
to serve. If you go for white chocolate you should choose a sweeter
wine than one for milk or dark chocolate. For dark, bittersweet
chocolate you should go to a Sauternes type wine. With white chocolate
I would suggest a red wine with some tannin in it.
"The best and easiest all-round solution for chocolate is
champagne or liqueurs. With Brut champagne you can serve any style
of chocolate. With a champagne that has residual sugar you're putting
sweet with sweet and that doesn't work well. When it comes to liqueurs,
the drier types work best, like pear eau de vie, armagnac and cognac.
Coffee-based liqueurs go very well and so do orange-based liqueurs
such as Grand Marnier – as long as you serve a non-sweet chocolate.
I would avoid white or milk with that."
What red wines would he recommend with chocolate? "Merlot,
Zinfandel would be my preference with bittersweet. Although my preference
is Icewine. I took Ontario Icewine to France twice now and served
it with my dark chocolate. The people loved it."
And is there any difference in having wine with chocolate by itself
or with a chocolate-based dessert? "The principles stay the
same. Port, Late Bottled Vintage or Ruby, goes very well with milk
chocolate and definitely with dark chocolate but don't waste
a fine vintage port. It deserves to be consumed alone."
Bernard Callebaut chocolates are sold in major cities from Toronto
to the West Coast. For information, call 1-800-661-8367.