Pairing Wine and Chocolate Lodi Style

Wine & Chocolate

Tips for optimizing palatable wine and chocolate pairings.

Wine and chocolate seem like natural partners.  Both delicacies offer untold pleasures.  And, there are many similarities in their developmental process. 


Both cacao and grapes go through extensive fermentation to create the wine and chocolate that we enjoy.  Just as winemakers utilize grape skins for tannin and acid development, chocolatiers work with the surrounding pulp of the bean to develop a bolder, sweeter product. Furthermore, the flavor profile of grapes used to make wine, and cocoa pods used for making chocolate are dependent upon soil and climate conditions.  


It’s no wonder wine aficionados and chocolate lovers are often one and the same.


Despite their similarities and seeming affinity for one another, the flavors of wine and chocolate aren’t always compatible. That’s because chocolate can be simultaneously sweet, bitter, acidic and fruity overpowering a wine and making it taste flat.


Here are some tips for optimizing palatable wine and chocolate pairings:


  • It is best when pairing wine and chocolate to make sure the wine is sweeter than the chocolate. 

  • Match lighter, more elegant chocolates with lighter-bodied wines and stronger chocolate with more full-bodied wines.  For example pair an intense 70% cacao dark chocolate with Lucas Winery Late Harvest Zinfandel

  • If you want to pair wine with a flavored chocolate such as cherry, mint or chili focus on accenting those flavors.

  • When it comes to desserts—especially super rich, decadent, chocolate desserts such as brownies, or fudge—don’t even try to pair them with a table wine.  Instead pour a dessert wine such as the St. Amant Bootleg Port. 

  • End sweet.  If you taste multiple combinations, taste sweeter chocolates and wines last.

  • Chocolate may actually be easier to pair with wine when it is an ingredient in a dish.  The chocolate gives the dish some depth, a hint of chocolate flavor and a nuanced sweetness.  For example, pair Michael-David Winery 6th Sense Syrah with Chocolate Chicken Mole.

  • Look for a “target –rich environment”, such as the 21st Annual Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend February 10th and 11th, 2017 where you can taste handcrafted Lodi wines and decadent chocolate treats from over 50 wineries in the Lodi appellation.  It’s a fun way to find out what suits your palate when it comes to wine and chocolate pairings!


While using these tips to optimize wine and chocolate pairings, perhaps the best way to find wine and chocolate pairings that work for your palate is to experiment. Palatable pairings can come from unexpected combinations.  And the more you experiment, the sharper your palate will become! 

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Martin Redmond

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