There we were in a banquet hall full of people at an Enological Society event joyfully sipping wine when the guest speaker uttered those horrific words, “Red wine and chocolate don’t go together.” I can’t recall who the guy was, what we were sipping, or even when this was (although it was long enough ago that the organization is now defunct). However, I won’t ever forget the collective gasp of disbelief that came from the crowd and just about sucked all the air out of that cavernous room. Clearly, the audience disagreed.
In the food and wine pairing classes I’ve taken at the Northwest Wine Academy, our instructor Chef Lenny always says,
“Pairing wine with chocolate is like having sex on the beach. It sounds like a good idea until you try it.”
Yes, the sound of the waves wafting to and fro does seem romantic. Then there is the sand. Everywhere, even where you couldn’t have imagined it…sand. Hmmm, maybe he’s got a point about the beach thing. But wine and chocolate?
After all, the Pike Brewing Chocofest is one of my favorite events in Seattle. I am easily seduced into spending an evening enjoying all manner of chocolate treats washed down with beer and wine. So what’s up with this talk about wine and chocolate not being a good idea?
The challenge is that the wine needs to be as sweet as or sweeter than the food. This is one of the basic food and wine pairing principles. What happens if the food is sweeter than the wine? As Jeffrey Saad has said,
“It spanks the fruit right out of the wine.”
When that happens, you can be left with a bitter taste in your mouth. Like a scorned lover left alone on the beach…with sand everywhere. Not so romantic.
However, that’s not to say it can’t be done. We found some great tips on how to pair wine with chocolate on wikiHow. My favorite step? The one that says, “experiment a lot.”
Links updated 2/7/18