Pairing Champagne and sparkling wine with chocolate is tricky business. The typical, dry-styled bubbly can wreak absolute havoc on the sweet, fatty profile of white and milk chocolate and take the tannins in dark chocolate to extremely bitter ends.
The best wine and chocolate pairings elevate both the chocolate and the wine. When a pairing is off, it tastes bitter, especially with chocolate. To maximize this unique pairing, always start with a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate and similar in palate weight, with lighter styles of chocolate partnering with wines that carry a more delicate body profile.
Look for Sweet Bubbles
To handle chocolate with bubbles, go for something sweet and perhaps pink. Look for Champagne terms such as "demi-sec" or "doux" on the label, both referring to sweeter treats. A top pick for demi-sec Champagne is Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec Champagne.
For true pink Champagne, opt for a non-vintage Nicolas Feuillatte D'Luscious Demi-Sec Rose. If you are shooting for bubbles and not limited to only Champagne (the highly regarded sparkling wine from Champagne, France), then save a few pennies and shoot for sparkling wines from California or Italy to Spain and other French-based regions (dubbed "Cremant" locally). Consider the sweet red themes of Italy's Banfi Rosa Regale for combining the elements of higher residual sugar and ripe red fruit with white, milk and dark chocolate options.
Pairing With Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Opt for "pink" bubbly and milk chocolate-covered strawberries to marry the red-fruited virtues of a rosé sparkling wine or a Cava Rosado with the innate sweet profile of chocolate and strawberry combo. Chocolate-dipped strawberries also show best with Moscato d’Asti and an Italian sparkling rosé.
Pairing With White Chocolate
The subtle, creamy character of white chocolate calls for a wine that shows a light to medium body. Moscato d’ Asti is a top pick pairing for white chocolate, thanks in part to its delicate body and bubbles, which work wonders on the cocoa butter content and sweet essences of the chocolate itself. Late harvest sparkling Rieslings with their lower alcohol levels and higher sugar contents also make a remarkable match to white chocolate themes.
Pairing With Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate is by far the more versatile chocolate option for pairing with sparkling wine. Running the gamut from a sparkling Moscato to a bubbly Gewurztraminer, milk chocolate holds higher sugar levels and lower tannins than its dark chocolate cousins making it easier to access with a wider range of wines.
Have a need to pair caramel and chocolate? A sweet sparkling wine carries the caramel well, showing a delicious palate contrast.
Pairing With Dark Chocolate
The dry tannin profile of a bittersweet 70 percent or higher dark chocolate may be even more challenging to pair with champagne because of its lack of sweetness. But if you are looking to give it a try, a Brachetto d’Acqui or a sparkling Shiraz are good choices; both are slightly sweet with a bit of bubble.
- The sweet factor of both the wine and the chocolate plays a major role in the success of the pairing. Typically, you want to shoot for a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate you are pairing it with.
- Consider the weight of the wine and the weight of the chocolate. For lighter styles of white and milk chocolate, the lighter to medium bodied wines will show a brighter pairing than a wine that is heavier on the palate and over competes with the chocolate.
- The weight of the wine also plays a role in the order of pairings. If you intend to run through a lineup of wine and chocolate pairings, then make sure to start with the lighter chocolates and wines first, saving the heavy-hitters until the end, so that they do not dominate the more delicate styles.