Here are some wine and chocolate pairing tips from Matt and Tim Gearhart of Gearharts Fine Chocolates, here in Richmond, Virginia. Gearharts Fine Chocolates is the home of handcrafted confections of uncompromising quality made from premium chocolate, sweet cream and pure butter blended with top quality fruits, nuts, herbs, spices and liquors in their kitchen in Charlottesville, Virginia. Matt Gearhart presented these tips during a seminar at the Virginia Wine Expo in April and agreed to share them with you.
Basics: Wine and chocolate can be very complex individually, so keep it simple with these three basics:
1. select a wine that will be perceived as sweeter than the chocolate
2. chocolate coats your mouth when you eat it, so you’ll need a wine thath’s big enough to cut the richness
3. try to find flavors in both wine and chocolate that are similar to one another.
White Chocolate – though not a true chocolate (it has no cacao), white chocolate is a super-sweet blend of sugar, milk, and cocoa butter. Try it with a sec or demi-sec Champagne, or perhaps a Riesling or Gewurztraminer.
Milk Chocolate – containing a small amount of cacao, milk chocolate is the sweetest of the real chocolates with its high sugar content. Reference Rule One: choose a sweeter wine than the chocolate!
Semisweet Chocolate – containing between 50 to 70 percent cacao, semisweet chocolate is the sweetest of the dark chocolates. With tones that are nutty, spicy, or earthy semisweet dark chocolate has a balanced and less sweet aftertaste than milk or white chocolate. A Cabernet or Bordeaux will usually bring out fruity or peppery nuances in the chocolate; a ruby port is the classic pairing with semisweet chocolate.
Bittersweet Dark Chocolate – containing the least amount of sugar and the greatest amount of cacao ( anywhere from 71 to 100 %), bittersweet dark chocolate has a bitter, roasted flavoring so intense that it needs a strong red wine to balance the taste. Zinfandels are the go-to, but an Australian shiraz or a Spanish grenache might hit the spot! Since these wines are the least sweet, remembering Rule One, your choices can include ports and muscats.
Thanks to Matt and Tim for sharing their chocolate expertise with us. Richmond’s premier bed and breakfast inn in the historic Fan District offers guests a sample of Tim Gearhart’s chocolates on their welcome tray – just another detail that makes a stay a gourmet experience. As an extra added attraction, add an 8 or 16 piece box of Gearharts Fine Chocolates to your reservation and sample an assortment of delectable sweets from one of the best artisan chocolatiers.