It’s the weekend before Valentine’s Day and everyone is trying to get you to buy red wine and chocolate.  If you do succumb to the urge, you might be in for one of your worst Valentine’s Day dates ever. Red wine and chocolate sounds really romantic, it even looks romantic but it rarely lives up to its promise of a romantic and delicious pairing.

One of the cardinal rules of food and wine is to never pair wine with a food that is sweeter than the wine. 
crossed out red wine and chocolate

Red wine and chocolate FAIL

Guess what? Most chocolate is a lot sweeter than most red wine When you sip that red luscious red wine after a bite of sweet chocolate, the wine will suddenly taste bitter and lose juicy fruit notes. Think of how delicious a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice can be. Now think of how wretched that same glass of juice tastes after just brushing your teeth. The toothpaste steals all of the sweetness from the juice. The same thing happens when you sip red wine after eating a sweet chocolate.  Almost all red wine will taste a lot better without chocolate!  Don’t ruin a good bottle of Washington red wine especially if you splurged for the holiday, with a pairing of chocolate.

But I can hear you protesting I like red wine and chocolate! There are three answers to that protest.

Few Successful Red Wine and Chocolate Pairings

Although most red wines do not pair with chocolate there are a few exceptions and a few tricks to make it more palatable

Sweeter wines can pair with chocolate, in fact Port is considered to be an excellent pairing.  Several Washington wine makers craft Port style wines.  Lantz Cellars is having a Vertical Vintage Port tasting, just in time for Valentines Day.  In addition to port there are other wines that pair with chocolate like a sweet Syrah or other types of dessert wine like a Merlot ice wine.

Some Washington wineries will specifically craft a sweeter red wine to pair with desserts and chocolates or just to cater to those who prefer a sweeter wine. If you insist on trying to pair a traditional red wine and chocolate, go for a fruit forward wine. If you see words like “jammy” in the description, you are in the right direction. Try pairing your red wine with dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is more bitter than milk chocolate, giving you a higher likelihood of success.

Beer and Chocolate

Unlike red wine many beers make an excellent pairing with chocolate. Following our cardinal food pairing rule of making sure the food is not sweeter than the beverage, it is the malty beers that pair well with chocolate not bitter beers like IPAs. Doubts porters and many strong ales make great hearing with chocolate. The sweetness coupled with caramel, toffee and cocoa notes frequently found in these beers serve as accent to chocolate while chocolate emphasizes those flavors in the beer. Don’t believe me?  Head out to Pike Brewing’s Chocofest where you can experiment pairing chocolate with red wines and with beers. Learn more about great beer and chocolate pairings.

Sparkling Wine and Chocolate

What is more romantic than a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne? Seduce your loved one with a sparkling wine instead of red wine this Valentines Day.  Still pay attention to the rule of keeping the wine as sweet or sweeter than the chocolate.   Whereas  most red wines are dry, not sweet, sparkling wines spread the spectrum. Avoid Brut, which means dry, sparkling wines and look for words like Demi-sec and Doux. Demi-sec and Doux sparkling wines are on the sweet end of the spectrum.