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The Essential Chocolate and Wine Pairing Guide

When you want a go-to guide for wine and chocolate pairing, here’s what you really need to know – simply put, chocolate is delicious; wine is delicious; eating chocolate while drinking wine is doubly delicious.

Matching wine with chocolate is all about balance. While there are several factors to consider, finding the right balance needn’t be complicated; simply look at the most obvious characters of both the wine and the chocolate – are they rich, light, full-flavoured, bitter, dry or sweet?

Here’s a brief overview to help you find your new favourite matches.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing – an Infographic Guide

wine and chocolate pairing infographic guide

Dark/Bittersweet Chocolate

Dark chocolates with 70% to 100% cacao are the most intense. They are richly flavoured and feature a combination of roasted, fruity, earthy, woody, ashy or nutty notes. Wines that are good matches to bittersweet styles will also match with semisweet chocolate.

With intense flavours, dark and bittersweet chocolates usually call for bolder, denser and fuller-bodied red wines that have more concentrated fruit notes. They’re also delicious served with a vintage Tawny Port.

Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate usually work well together, and if there was to be one generic chocolate and wine suggestion, it would be this one. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is generally full-bodied, it needs to be matched with intense flavours, so turning up the cocoa content in the chocolate is key.

The fruit intensity and medium to full bodied nature of Shiraz make for a rich and mouth-filling combination. The key is starting with a chocolate with over 50% cocoa content and matching the general fruit flavours of the wine to a complementary chocolate flavour.

Grenache matches well with heavier chocolates as it has good sweet fruit weight and is low in tannins which can balance out the bitterness of dark chocolate.

Suggested varietal matches: Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Tawny Port, Shiraz, and Zinfandel

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate has a smaller percentage of cacao and a higher percentage of sugar. This factor, plus the milk content means it’s milder, and sweeter with flavours including brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, milk, cream, nutty and/or malt.

Milk chocolate pairs nicely with lighter, fruiter and lower alcohol reds or try a fortified wine such as Muscat or Tokay – its butterscotch, toffee and nutty nuances highlight milk chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes and enhance the overall flavour. If you’re partial to aged Sparkling reds, their complex savoury characters make them perfect for desserts and flavoured chocolates.

Suggested varietal matches: Muscat, Tokay, and aged Sparkling reds.

White Chocolate

Even though it is referred to as white chocolate, this style technically isn’t a true chocolate as it doesn’t include cocoa, but cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. Its sweet flavours of cream, milk, honey, vanilla, caramel or fruit makes it quite a versatile pair with wine.

A delicious match is Australian Moscato which tend to be light aromatic and fruity and often have a slight spritz that lifts and refreshes the palate. The apricot, stonefruit and lychee flavours lend them to finer lighter chocolate, white chocolate and mousses. Late-harvest Riesling has an exotic sweetness that complements the vanilla, caramel and honey flavours of white chocolate, while Gewürztraminer has a slight sweetness plus typical lychee fruit that also makes it a favourite.

Suggested varietal matches: Semi-dry Sparkling whites, Gewurtztraminer, Moscato, and Late-harvest Riesling.

Discover Your Favourites

As each and every one of us has a unique palate, likes and dislikes, the only proven way to find your favourite chocolate and wine match is to experiment and we all know what a tough job that will be.

How about sea salt caramel with Prosecco, dark raspberry with a Cabernet, dark orange with a Botrytis Semillon, or dark chilli with a Cabernet Merlot?

Chocolate Indulgence

If you’re looking to indulge someone special, score some brownie points (par the pun) or just want to treat yourself to some homemade chocolatey goodness, here are some guaranteed winning Selector recipes you’ll absolutely adore.

Lyndey Milan's chocolate and raspberry brownies

Chocolate Parfait Recipe

Simple chocolate sour cream cake with coffee and spiced dates recipe

Chocolate fondant with mandarin and Ice-cream recipe

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The Essential Salad and Wine Matching Guide
Fresh flavour-filled salads to match your selection Celebrate fresh and flavourful salads perfect to serve in the warmer months! There’s no limit to what we can call a salad these days and the idea that it needs to be served cold is a distant memory. The best combination of ingredients is seasonally-driven and matched with a wine with the appropriate weight and texture. Red drinkers are not left out, but opt for a lighter, more aromatic variety served with warm salads that include meat. Don’t forget that the dressing is an important consideration, with the light and zesty styles best matched with lighter wines and the creamier options best paired with wines with a bit more weight and appealing acidity. Light and aromatic whites Trent Mannell loves whipping up a simple salad when friends drop by and the summer salad with asparagus and goat’s curd is a perfect choice. When it comes to wine matching, he explains, “While the beauty of this salad is its simplicity, it also includes quite strong flavours in the asparagus and goat’s curd. Offset them with a light, aromatic white like Sauvignon Blanc , Riesling or Vermentino .” Medium weight and textural whites Keith Tulloch loves his whites with texture and find rocket, pear and walnut salad with blue cheese dressing a perfect match for this style of wine. “With its beautiful textures, this salad needs a white wine match that’s full of texture too”, he says. “I recommend Pinot G, Fiano, Arneis or Marsanne.” Fuller bodied whites Entertaining a group can be stress free when you serve up a dish like King salmon with warm Romesco salad . This is one of Adam Walls’ go-to dishes and for a wine match, he says, “Salmon calls for a fuller-bodied white, as do the ingredients in the Romesco salad. I recommend a classic Chardonnay or Verdelho , or for something different, a Viognier or Roussanne .” Light to medium weight and savoury reds Red lovers don’t miss out when it comes to summer salads, and Dave Mavor loves adapting the classic match of duck and Pinot Noir for the warmer months with warm duck breast and cauliflower salad and his favourite Pinot. But, he explains, “You could also try Grenache & GSM blends , Nero d’Avola , Sangiovese or Tempranillo .”
Food
Matching wine with Haigh's chocolate
Words by Paul Diamond on 29 Nov 2017
Individually, wine and chocolate are highly desired treats, but when brought together in a complementary pairing, they can transport your tastebuds to new and exciting places. This Christmas, we have teamed up with Australia’s most respected chocolate producer to bring you some matches that will have you wishing it was Christmas every month of the year! And, we're happy to announce an exclusive offer for Wine Selectors members and Selector readers. When you spend $75 or more with Haigh's online and use the code SELECTOR17, you'll receive a free packet of Milk Chocolate Frogs! Find out more below . Match 1: Shiraz and Haigh’s Dark Chocolate (50%+)
The fruit intensity and medium to full bodied nature of Shiraz make for a rich and mouth-filling combination. The key is starting with a chocolate with over 50% cocoa content and matching the general fruit flavours of the wine to a complementary chocolate flavour. Our Pick : Primo Estate Shiraz 2016 and Haigh’s 100g Dark Cardamom Tablet Tasting note : This match is mind blowing! The dark chocolate and the fruit intensity of the McLaren Vale classic from Primo Estate are perfectly weighted together, but what makes this match is when the mocha, plum and pepper flavours of the wine meet the cardamom flavours in the chocolate.  Boom! Match 2: Cabernet Sauvignon and Haigh’s Dark Chocolate (60%+)
For some reason, Cabernet and dark chocolate always works, and if there was going to be one generic chocolate and wine suggestion, it would be this one. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is generally full-bodied, it needs to be matched with intense flavours, so turning up the cocoa content in the chocolate is key. Our Pick: Rosabrook Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 and Haigh’s 100g Costa Rica Single Origin Dark Chocolate Tasting note : This is a decadent, seductive match! This premium Cabernet from Margaret River has plenty of dark berry intensity that matches the chocolate perfectly, but there is an extra sweet raspberry lift to the wine that adds a lovely complement to the bitter flavours of the chocolate. Match 3: Pinot Noir and Haigh’s Dark Ginger
Pinot Noir is a soft varietal with delicate tannins , so matching it to chocolate can be challenging. But when you get it right, the results are amazing. Less about texture/weight matching, pairing chocolate to Pinot is all about complementary flavours. Our Pick : De Bortoli Villages Pinot Noir 2016 and Haigh’s Dark Ginger Tasting note: This is crazy delicious. We stumbled onto this match, as ginger was not on the radar when tasting chocolates for Pinot. The ginger is soft, creamy, sweet and a little spicy and it worked so perfectly with the soft, earthy red fruits in this Pinot. When you think about this match, it makes little sense, but when you taste both together, it makes for a heady, seductive and exotic match. Match 4: Pinot Gris and Haigh’s Dark Champagne Truffle
Softer and more textural than its crunchier, crispier Grigio cousin, Pinot Gris is a great varietal for chocolate matching with chocolate. Generally low in acid with soft pear, florals and citrus, Gris works well with milk driven and fruit confected chocolates. Our Pick : Lisa McGuigan Pinot Gris 2015 and Haigh’s Dark Champagne Truffle Tasting Note : Hard to stop at one! This Haigh’s Dark Champagne Truffle is incredible and will work with a range of white wines, but we found that the soft lemon, pear and granny smith apple fruits are the best combo for the creamy balance between the Champagne cream and the dark chocolate coating. The dusting also adds a nice sweetness to the whole picture. Dangerously delicious. Match 5: Chardonnay and Haigh’s Dark Orange Slices
Chardonnay , with its nutty, stone fruited complexity is another variety that is hard to be generic about as there are so many nuances to each individual example. Like Pinot Noir, matching becomes less about weight, texture and acidity and more about flavour matching. And, like Pinot Gris, it goes really well with fruit confected and flavoured chocolates.   Our Pick : Tyrrell's Dry White Chardonnay (1976) and Haighs Dark Orange slices Tasting Note : Surprisingly, amazingly delicious. This was another out-of-the-blue match that, on paper, shouldn’t work, but very much does. The rich and round white melon and citrus envelop the jaffa-like orange flavours that seem to be extended and lengthened by the wine. The chocolate is dark, but the acidity in the wine lightens it, making a hero of the orange. Lovely combination. Match 6. Sauv Blanc and Haigh’s White Lemon Truffle
As a zesty, fresh and aromatic variety, Sauvignon Blanc is a good white chocolate option. When it comes to thinking about the wine, however, try to steer away from examples that have loads of grassy characters in preference for examples with citrus dominant characters. Our Pick : Hungerford Hill Fumé Blanc 2016 and White Lemon Truffle Tasting Note : There’s no way you will want to share this combination and when we finished tasting, we were looking for more of these special little truffles. This Fumé style Sauv Blanc is citrus driven and textural with little grassy notes that make the natural citrus stand out and was a perfect partner for the lemon spiked cream at the centre of this white chocolate coated treat. This is a definite crowd pleaser. Special offer for Wine Selectors Members
Spend $75 and use the code SELECTOR17 when you shop with Haigh’s online and you’ll receive a free 140g packet of Milk Chocolate Frogs valued at $12.50! The most iconic of the Haigh’s collection, these frogs are made from premium milk chocolate, which they have been making since the 1930s. Shop at Haigh's online now See the terms and conditions below .  
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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