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In Good Taste

Guide to Wine & Chocolate Pairing

Guide to Wine & Chocolate Pairing

Wine and Chocolate

When it comes to wine pairings, cheese is a traditional favorite, but there truly is something magical about chocolate. If you have never tried wine and chocolate together, you might wonder whether the pairing process is complex. Can’t we just pop the cork, unwrap the chocolate, and go? Can we say the same thing about chocolate that we can about cheese — that an inexpensive wine is made better with more chocolate? Sure, we can, but what if we enjoy great chocolate with great wine?

Why does this pairing work? Like meats and cheeses, various chocolates have different flavor structures that complement certain wines. Because of this, there are certainly best practices to follow when picking your pair. By using some of the tips we’ll share with you in this article, you can make informed decisions about combining fun new wines and interesting new chocolates you discover.

Milk Chocolate

Ah, milk chocolate. Sweet, smooth, melts in your mouth — and sometimes your hands. With a treat this delightfully sweet, you can create exceptional pairings with some of our sweet white wines like:

Wine & Chocolate Pairing, Riesling & Milk Chocolate

Riesling is a German white wine that features light sweetness with hints of orange peel, citrus, honey, and peach. This light and vibrant wine gives a little boost of sweetness and acidity that meshes perfectly with the milk chocolate, like a little bouquet of freshness right on top. Though made primarily in Germany and Alsace, France and Austria, there are plenty of great Rieslings coming out of Washington State as well.


Wine and Chocolate Pairing, Moscato d'Asti and Milk Chocolate

Moscato d’Asti has a light body with lychee, peach, lime, and orange zest flavors, making it a dessert wine that packs enough natural sweetness to satisfy any sweet tooth, doubly so when paired with milk chocolate.


Wine and Chocolate Pairing: Champagne and Milk Chocolate

Champagne works for just about everything, though ideal pairings often depend on the level of sweetness you get. Extra Dry and Dry (in Champagne terms, these are more off-dry), Sec, and Demi-Sec will all provide varying levels of sweetness to complement the chocolate.


Wine and Chocolate Pairings: Pinot Noir and Milk Chocolate

Pinot Noir, like Champagne, is versatile and has an incredible amount of potential pairings. A fruity, medium- to light-bodied Pinot Noir can bring notes of cherry, subtle herb bouquets, and even hints of cinnamon, making it a natural companion for milk chocolate.


Wine and Chocolate Pairings: Brachette d'Acqui and Milk Chocolate

Brachetto d’Acqui is light in body and full of sweetness. Bursting with notes of raspberry syrup, this wine offers yet another perfect match for the best milk chocolates you can find.

You can also sample drier red wines when looking for an ideal pairing option. Something like a Merlot or even a Merlot-based Bordeaux will balance the chocolate’s sweetness with light fruit and, in some cases, a slight earthiness. Red blends are natural pairing options due to their penchant for being a bit more fruit-forward. In fact, any fruit-forward wine will work. Pinot Noirs from the New World will pair quite nicely, blending fruit acidity with creamy chocolate for a match made in heaven. Ruby Port adds a rich and smooth sweetness to the silky nature of milk chocolate, giving you beautiful moments of decadent bliss.

Dark Chocolate

With dark chocolate, we’re now dealing with a sweet that has tannins of its own. These tannins give the chocolate a sharp and bitter flavor. Though it’s tempting to match the chocolate, tannin for tannin with a bold Cabernet, this approach usually results in either a tug-of-war between dominating flavors or an unpleasant taste experience overall.

Chocolate & Wine Pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon and Dark Chocolate

Cabernet is trickier than you think when it comes to dark chocolate. A bold, full-bodied Cab will vie for dominance with its heavy tannins, usually resulting in a gross taste. Look for a stainless steel-aged Cabernet that is lighter and fruit-forward, as these will typically have a little extra residual sugar to complement the bitterness and make for a phenomenal pairing. 


Wine and Chocolate Pairings: Red Blend Wine and Dark Chocolate

Red blends from the New World are juicy and bursting with combinations of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, and black currant, these wines combine with dark chocolate to deliver delightfully complex flavor experiences.


Wine and Chocolate Pairings: Shiraz and Dark Chocolate

Shiraz is the southern hemisphere name for Syrah, and most of this varietal comes from Australia. More fruit-forward and jammy than its European cousin, Shiraz is a unique yet natural pairing for dark chocolate.


Wine and Chocolate Pairing: Zinfandel and Dark Chocolate

Zinfandel checks off all the boxes we want for dark chocolate: fruity, full-bodied, and just enough sugar to keep things sweet (the extra alcohol percentage doesn’t hurt either). Zin is California's signature grape! It does really well in the warm sun during the hot days of summer in California’s inland growing regions, like Lodi and Paso Robles. 

White Chocolate

White chocolate is smooth and silky, with nutty notes and full sweetness. Though not technically chocolate, as it’s not made with cocoa, it still commands a unique place in the world of chocolate. Most white chocolate pairings are made with sweet dessert wines.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing: Gewurztraminer and White Chocolate

Gewurztraminer can be a mouthful to say, and while it’s not necessarily a dessert wine, it pairs exceptionally well with white chocolate. Less sweet than Riesling, Gewurztraminer has its notes of lychee, lime, and even a bit of spice.


Wine and Chocolate Pairing: Late-Harvest Riesling and White Chocolate

Late-Harvest Riesling is just that, a riesling where the grapes have been harvested later than normal. Riesling grapes that are harvested late in the growing season provide a sweeter wine that brings richer notes of spice, cinnamon, lemon curd, and apricot, all of which pair well with the nutty sweetness of white chocolate.


Wine and Chocolate Pairing: Rose and White Chocolate

Rosé is a wonderful and romantic wine made by partially macerating the grape skins during the production process. Look for a west coast rosé with notes of strawberry and raspberry to pair with white chocolate.


Wine and Chocolate Pairing: Chardonnay and White Chocolate

Chardonnay is underrated for chocolate. A nice oaked Chardonnay from California will give body and more creamy texture to white chocolate, while an unoaked Chardonnay will bring smooth pear and nutty notes.

Alternative Chocolate Styles

Spicy Chocolates

Sometimes you like a little heat in your chocolate. Sugar neutralizes the pepper’s heat, so a sweet red like Brachetto or even a Lambrusco will do the trick. On the flip side, if you want to kick things up a notch, a nice full-bodied and very tannic Cabernet will spice things up, as the tannins intensify the already existing heat (this goes for spicy dishes, too).

Salted Caramel Chocolates

Port wines work very well with caramel, especially given their rich and sweet nature. A fruity Shiraz would make for a fun and interesting pairing

Creme Filled Chocolates

A nice oaked Chardonnay will make creme-filled treats even tastier by adding a little oak and body to the lightness of the cream. 

Hazelnut Chocolates

Chardonnay works well when paired alongside the hazelnut’s rich nature, but so will something like a Pinot Noir or a Merlot.

Wine and Chocolate Tasting

A wine and chocolate tasting can feel daunting but don’t worry, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Just like you would with dinner courses, start your dessert tasting with the lightest and work your way to the darkest, in both wines and chocolates.

When planning for your wine and chocolate party, it’s a good idea to start from your lighter wines and chocolates and move into the heavier stuff. It never hurts to start with something bubbly and end with something sweet. For example, white chocolate with Chardonnay, milk chocolate with Pinot Noir, caramel-filled chocolate with Shiraz, and dark chocolate with Zinfandel. 

How to Plan a Wine & Chocolate Tasting

If you’re looking for gift baskets, it’s all about pairing the wines they love with the chocolate they love. But here are some great examples we have that are ready to impress the wine snob in your life!

Valentines Day

We can’t talk about wine and chocolate without mentioning the most well-known romantic holiday, Valentine’s Day. It is the perfect time to try one of the tastiest wine and chocolate pairings possible. That’s right; we’re talking about chocolate-covered strawberries. The general rule of thumb is to pair the wine with the chocolate you use for the strawberries. If you want to get even more romantic, grab a little champagne and place strawberry quarters in the glasses for extra sweetness and flavor. 

Strawberries, Chocolate and Wine
Champagne and Strawberry Spritz

For a gift option that’s as charming as it is simple, try our Valentine’s Gift Basket that includes a White Blend or Rosé and a light-bodied Cabernet and your favorite milk and dark chocolates. This easy wine and chocolate pairing is the perfect way to create a romantic experience with your special someone.

Summer Picks

Our Favorites

Warm, sunny days require wines that are crisp and oh-so refreshing. With two delicious rosés and a delightful Sauvignon Blanc, our Summer Picks are the perfect addition to your sunshine-filled adventures.

$61.97

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California Wine Mixer Top 3

Our Favorites

Californian wine is a state of mind. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé, and Red Wine from our California Wine Mixer bundle can transport your state of mind (and palate) all the way to The Golden State.

$77.97

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International Whites

Our Favorites

Experience a world-class wine tour for your tastebuds from the comfort of home. This bundle features incredible selections from France and Italy that will have you ready to grab your passport and hop a plane.

$67.97

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Vine Voyage Top 3

Our Favorites

The Vine Voyage bundle will remind you why France and Italy are two of the most well-known, wine-producing countries in the world. Take your senses to the European countryside with Montepulciano, Rosé of Sangiovese, and Nerello Cappuccio.

$58.97

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Light Reds

Our Favorites

Like the infectious laugh of a best friend, these wines will warm your soul and lighten your mood. Our Light Reds bundle with a Grenache, Coteaux Borguignons AOC, and Pinot Noir are sure to be your new wine besties!

$79.97

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Big Reds

Our Favorites

Big. Bold. Unapologetic. The rich, unmistakable flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Bordeaux Rouge in our Big Reds collection are perfect for the unwavering palate that demands something more.

$81.97

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Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. A rosé wine is actually made from red grapes (like the Sangiovese) that haven’t fully ripened by harvesting time. Try as these grapes might, they ended up a little too tart and a little too light in color for a typical red; but that’s where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink—it’s everything you want in your bottle of rosé and more.

$19.99

Sauvignon Blanc

La Pluma

We couldn’t have rosé and Pinot Grigio at the La Pluma party without inviting its ring leader, Sauvignon Blanc. If Pinot Grigio is the dry, acidic friend of the group and rosé is the always sweet and highly affable one, Sauvignon Blanc exists between the two to create true Zen. An interesting and addictive blend of grapefruits and herbs set this white wine apart and make it incredibly difficult to resist, especially when the temperature is high and your desire for a refreshment is higher. La Pluma Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect poolside or beach companion; just be sure to bring a few bottles because your friends will definitely want to partake, and we don’t blame them!

$23.99

Barbera

Wild Child

The perfect pizza wine. Barbera is a simple wine that’s not only easy for winemakers to make, but easier to drink. It’s low in alcohol and an Italian red wine we implore you try chilled because it’s truly *chef’s kiss*. Classic Barberas are fruity, medium bodied and offer the perfect hint of tartness. It’s also the best of both worlds in terms of light and heavy red wines. Let’s say you’re having a friend over who always prefers a cab, but you’re more of a Pinot Noir kinda gal. Order a pizza and open the Barbera for a perfect middle ground kind of evening. After all, the combo of good red wine and pizza is the great equalizer.

$24.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

$20.99

Cabernet Sauvignon

Unprecedented

If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

$34.99

Rosé

La Pluma

While it’s the unofficial official wine of summer and warm weather situations, La Pluma’s Rosé is one you can drink year-round, no matter the occasion. All rosé wine is derived from red grapes that didn’t quite make the cut, but the result exceeds expectations in terms of highly-sippable, easy-drinking wine. This La Pluma Rosé is as light as its feathery namesake and is best served extremely chilled for an extremely chill afternoon of nothing but vibes. And maybe a few snacks.

$17.99

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

$19.99

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

$25.99

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Nerello Cappuccio

Wild Child

This is not your average Italian red. Nerello Cappuccio is a dark-skinned grape variety from Sicily, the Mount Etna region to be exact (yes, the volcano). Although its color is vibrant, you might be surprised to know that it’s a much softer red than it looks to be. Our Nerello Cappuccio is cherry-forward, with other tasting notes of vanilla, light coffee (like your favorite breakfast blend), and minerals. The delicate tannins in this Sicilian wine will surprise and delight you and tastes exceptionally good paired with margherita pizza or arancini balls (drool).

$17.99

Chardonnay

Unprecedented

Ah, Chardonnay. The buttery, oaky, rich white wine that is polarizing in its very nature. This is the type of wine you either love or hate; it’s rare to find someone who lies somewhere in the middle. If you’re in the “love” category, our classic Unprecedented California Chardonnay will surely become a new favorite. Its buttery vanilla nature pairs extremely well with like minded buttery, creamy foods such as brie cheese, lobster, crab cakes, crème brûlée, squash, corn, and mushrooms.

$33.00

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you’re into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit bitter, the more you sip, the sweeter it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Red Wine

Unprecedented

We’d love to introduce you to our old friend: Unprecedented Red Wine. She’s a 2019 blend that has been with us through it all and grown to be one of our more popular wines. She’s a mix of all the best Italian grapes: Barbera, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo with a splash of Mourvèdre and a few others. They’re all hanging out, having one big, juicy, delicious party! Tasting notes include a touch of spice, a hint of leather, and some of the best juicy fruits, including blackberries. She truly gets along with just about everybody!

$24.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Tempranillo

Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.

$27.99

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they’re low in alcohol, medium bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we’re in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera is the perfect marriage of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a ladies who lunch kind of afternoon.

$21.99

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn’t not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape grows exclusively along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that’s incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it’s “weird” only because it’s not widely known by name, but chances are you’ve probably had it before if you’ve ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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