Chocolate Pairings

Posted by Alayne Gardner-Carimi on

Be It with Wines or Whiskies
Long associated with romance and love, chocolate contains compounds that can elevate mood and create a sense of pleasure. The act of sharing chocolates can be intimate and sweet, making it a perfect symbol of affection. This timeless choice for Valentine’s Day and beyond can be taken to new limits through the magic of pairing.
Whether your passions lead you toward wines or whiskies, their coupling with chocolates can leave your palate well pleased. All your senses are heightened as edges smooth, flavor profiles are enhanced, and elements are balanced and contrasted.  But, just like romance, not just any partner will do. 
At vomFASS Madison, we look forward to helping you with a little matchmaking this weekend. Whether you or your special someone likes it dark, milk, white, a little nutty or with a cherry on top, you’re sure to find a great pairing in our lovingly curated wine, whiskey, and liqueur selections. We also have an assortment of fine European chocolates available, many already infused with liquors. 
Chocolate Choices
We’re going to go out on a limb here and tell you: the purchase few high quality chocolates is much better than buying a giant box of lower quality confections. Buying craft chocolate you help support small businesses across the globe and increase better farming practices. 
High-quality chocolatiers may use traditional techniques. They choose high quality ingredients, pay attention to detail, and prioritize the art of chocolate-making. They carefully source and blend cocoa beans to achieve specific flavor notes, allowing you to experience a wider range of tastes in each chocolate. They often showcase complex flavor profiles with layers of taste. Premium chocolate makers take great care in the craftsmanship of their products, resulting in chocolates with luxurious texture and a more satisfying mouthfeel. Mmmmm…
Pairing Chocolates
White Chocolate...
(Containing cocoa butter but no cocoa beans, it is the most versatile chocolate to pair.)
WINES: The exotic sweetness of a moscato, and the dried fruit and floral notes of desert wines and ports will bring forward the soft nutty caramel and vanilla flavor of white chocolate. The citrus notes of a Sauvignon Blanc are enhanced as they dance with the creaminess of the chocolate. And yet, the sweet butter of the white chocolate will bring out the dark fruits in warm-climate zinfandel and shiraz wines.
WHISKIES: White chocolate is super creamy and sweet and so works perfectly with smooth malts with a touch of spice, such as the Tan y Ddraig Welsh Whiskey and the Great Glen Highland Blend Scotch Whisky. Yet it also provides the perfect backdrop to the earthy and grassy undertones of Two Georges High Wheat Bourbon.
Milk Chocolate...
(A good milk chocolate is usually about half chocolate and half cream–like those amazing ganache chocolate truffles dusted in cocoa powder. The extra fat from the cream makes milk chocolate one of the easiest “true” chocolates to pair with wine. Milk chocolate is your safest bet when you want to enjoy a wine pairing. Its higher milk and sugar content and lower cacao make it more likely to pair well with your drink of choice.)
WINES: Pair with a medium bodied red like a pinot noir from California or Australia. Both regions are warmer, and their wines boast beautiful ripe fruit flavors that will pair wonderfully with this medium intensity chocolate. Other excellent pairings are Merlot, Dornfelder, Port, and some sweeter styles of sparkling wine.
WHISKIES: A milk chocolate or chocolate ganache, for instance, will coat your palate in such a way that the alcohol punch will be softer and you will get a cleaner feel of the flavor notes of the whiskey. I
n our American Rye Whiskey, the milk chocolate works well with the buttery, caramel notes of the American oak, and takes the spice in the rye up to almost rapturous levels. 
Dark Chocolate...
(The polyphenols in dark chocolate mirror those in wine and give both a somewhat bitter taste. It’s also the part of the chocolate that gives you all the health benefits!)
WINE: The bitterness in dark chocolate is what we’ll want to balance out with a properly selected wine pairing, look for bolder wines with residual sugars. The sugars smooth the bitter notes of the cacao and the big fruit and spice notes will hold up to the more intense dark chocolate flavors. Think big, juicy, fruit-forward reds with low tannins, like warm climate merlot, shiraz, or zinfandel.  Ports and port-style wines like Beau Joubert Fat Pig often have touches of cinnamon spice to the taste profile, and pair marvelously with chocolates with high cacao percentages. The robust red Dornfelder can also be a good choice.
WHISKIES: The stronger cacao flavors of dark chocolate will provide a perfect contrast with the sweetness of the High Corn and White Corn Bourbons. At the same time, the sea salt and peat of Cragabus Islay Blended Malt Scotch Whisky can temper the bitterness of the dark chocolate while the chocolate enhances the caramel, vanilla and toasted sugar notes of the whisky.
Aphrodite Approved
If you are getting together with your romantic partner or friends, a chocolate pairing is an interesting and fun activity. Chocolate and spirits have come together like destined lovers across the centuries and around the world. The clinking of a celebratory glass and the snap of a chocolate bar both excite attention and increase anticipation. Will it be for the love of fun or the fun of love?

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