Just as peanut butter goes with jelly and grilled cheese with tomato soup, wine is quite the match for chocolate. Master Sommelier George Miliotes of Wine Bar George believes the bitterness and richness of chocolate is what makes it complement wine so well.
Pairing these two indulgences isn’t as cut and dry as you may think though.
“There’s a wide range of feelings as to what goes best together,” Miliotes says. “So part of it should be guided by your own taste and what you think is great.”
The Chocolate Experience
A highlight of the Wine Bar George menu is The Chocolate Experience. This pairing demonstration invites guests to use all five of their senses as they explore how dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate taste with a selection of three wines.
While opinions vary, Miliotes says guests typically gravitate to white chocolate with moscato, milk chocolate with a fruity and dry red wine and dark chocolate with a sweet red wine.
“I think part of the fun for everybody, and the reason we have The Chocolate Experience at the restaurant, is so you can mix and match and taste and see what you think is best as opposed to having to absolutely go by what the master sommelier or anybody else says,” Miliotes says.
Do It Yourself
The restaurant’s pairing experience offers the chance to try higher-end wines, but Miliotes says that a pairing can also be done on a fun, drinkable level at home with friends. “You could be master sommeliers for the day and see which ones you think goes best together,” he says.
Miliotes suggests preparing a buffet with good-quality white, milk and dark chocolate. Then have a sparkling sweet option like Le Perlina Moscato, a sweet red wine like Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz and a dry red wine like Chateau St. Michelle Merlot ready to pour. You can even ask your friends to bring their favorite wine and see how well they pair.
If you’re feeling really crazy, throw some good, old-fashioned candy bars into the mix. Miliotes notes that a five to 10-year old Madeira has rich notes that offset the caramel, chocolate and nuts in a Snickers, and the saltiness of a Pay Day or dark chocolate with sea salt would pair nicely with a dessert-style white wine.
He adds, “I think salt in the proper amount makes just about any wine taste smoother and richer.”
White chocolate + a dessert-style white wine
George’s favorite! Beerenauslese, a Selbach Oster style of Reisling, “is a finer pairing in the world with white chocolate.”
Dark chocolate (65 to 70 percent cocoa) + a dessert-style red wine
George’s favorite! Dr. Parce banyuls. “I like the play between the bitterness of really good dark chocolate and the sweetness of banyuls.”
Milk chocolate (45 percent cocoa) + a dry red wine
George’s favorite! Taylor Fladgate tawny port. “I think a 20-year old tawny port and milk chocolate goes spectacularly well together.”