Matching chocolates to wine can be difficult or even controversial, but Theresa Anderson of Swan Chocolates in Merrimack offers her “Seven Swan Sweet Pairings” that are a foolproof guide to getting the most out of chocolate and an accompanying wine.
Anderson explains that wines and chocolate both have subtle undertones and top notes that are magnified or complemented when paired appropriately. Ideally, you would want to taste the characteristics of each.
Since specific wines are so distinctive it is hard to pigeonhole an entire category of wine to any one chocolate. But the general rule to apply is whiter wines with lighter chocolates. The spectrum of white to dark chocolate is a sliding scale of cocoa butter to chocolate liqueur. The liqueur gives dark chocolate its strong and powerful flavor that takes over your palate. The subtlety of white wine would get lost. Milk chocolate is almost a balance of cocoa butter and cocoa liqueur but, oddly, can be difficult to balance with a wine selection. Dark chocolates are often matched with ports or full-bodied reds. For straightforward solid bars of chocolate, dark or milk, Anderson says that any sweet dessert wine would work.
But if you are a true connoisseur of wine and chocolate on their own, and want to have a peak experience, her specific wine suggestions to match Swan Chocolate offerings follow>>>>
Schramsberg Champagne Brut Rosé 1999 750ml $34.99
The bubbling action of sparkling wines cleanses the palate and, with each sip, you get a true taste of the chocolate. Swan confection pairing: Chocolate-covered cherries. The light fondant is not overly sweet, while the dark is not bitter. The raspberry undertone of the rosé is a perfect match for the cherry. Chocolate-covered strawberries work well, too.
Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut 2000 $34.99
The apple, pear and warm, toasty flavors blend with white chocolate. The perfect match: Swan pistachio truffle or classic white truffle. White chocolate is willing to take a back seat to the other flavors, allowing their subtle tastes to come through.
Sineann Pinot Noir, Oregon 2000 $34.99
This medium-bodied red is like a trump card; it goes with everything. It has great berry flavors with smokey undertone, is strong but with a smooth finish. Perfect match: An assorted box of truffles, making it a perfect hostess gift. Good for pairing with milk chocolate, which can be difficult to match.
Seven Deadly Zins 1999 $19.99
This medium-bodied dry red is rich in vanilla, oak and cinnamon undertones. Perfect match: Swan’s pistachio praline truffle, their award-winning signature chocolate, featuring infused cinnamon praline layers. Both varieties, covered with either dark or milk chocolate, hit just the right note.
Four Vines Zinfandel Port 2001 $24.99
If you like caramels, with or without nuts this is your match. This port, fortified with brandy, has a velvety raspberry flavors that trails into a silky caramel finish. Need we say more?
Quinta Raven Port $15.99
This full-bodied port from Portugal meets its match with Swan’s dark mocha truffle or dark classic truffle. If you like you chocolate dark and straight, this is your cup of tea.
Bonny Doon Framboise $14.99
This full-bodied raspberry-infused dessert wine, and other dessert wines in general, have a generous alcohol content that allows the flavors of chocolate to come out. Raspberry truffle is an obvious choice, but try the orange truffle topped with a bit of peel for a serious synergy of flavors.
Coturri Zinfandel Sonoma Valley 2001
Wine give you headaches? Try this Zin made with wild yeasts, plus it’s unrefined and unfiltered. It is 100 percent organic and sulfite-free. Very helpful if you get headaches from sulfites. With a fruity red berry flavor, try matching it with Swan’s milk chocolate fruit and nut bar, if again, dark chocolate is too much.
Take your pick, make your match, add a little candlelight and a willing partner for an evening of unexpected delight. NH
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This article appears in the February 2004 issue of New Hampshire Magazine