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Food

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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Wine
Pursuit of Perfection - Australian Pinot Noir
Words by Dave Mavor on 2 May 2017
Australia's established Pinot Noir regions are continuing to develop and evolve remarkable examples of this varietal. But for the big future of Aussie Pinot, we may need to look west. I'll admit it - not everyone is a fan of  Pinot Noir . But that fact, in itself, is what makes Pinot so enigmatic - aficionados swoon, swillers scoff. And this suits Pinot (and its lovers) just fine because in this land of the tall poppy, it is not always favourable to be too popular. That said, Pinot is one of the most revered and collected wine styles in the world, with the top examples from its homeland in Burgundy selling for outrageous sums of money. It is generally quite delicate (some say light-bodied), and it takes a certain development of one's palate to truly appreciate its delightful nuances, perfumed aromas, textural elements and supple tannin profile. It appears that if you enjoy wine for long enough, eventually your palate will look for and appreciate the more subtle and complex style that quality Pinot can provide. A good point that illustrates this comes from winemaker Stephen George, who developed the revered Ashton Hills brand. "A lot of older gentlemen come into the cellar door and say they love Shiraz, but it doesn't love them anymore," he says. "So we are getting some of my generation moving over to Pinot Noir, and the young kids of today are also really embracing it." THE ALLURE OF PINOT (FOR THE WINEMAKER) Winemakers love a challenge, and there is no doubt that Pinot is a challenging grape to grow, and even more challenging to make. The Burgundians have certainly nailed it, but they have been practicing for thousands of years, and this is part of the key. The cool climate of Burgundy has proven to be a major factor, as is the geology of the soils there, but they have also shown the variety to be very site-specific - vines grown in adjacent vineyards, and even within vineyards, can produce very different results. Vine age too, is critical. True of most varieties, but especially Pinot Noir, the best fruit tends to come from mature vineyards, considered to be around 15 years old or more. Yields too, need to be kept low to get the best out of this grape, as it needs all the flavour concentration it can get to show its best. Australian winemakers have taken these lessons to heart - gradually developing ever cooler areas to grow Pinot, working out the best soil types, and carefully exploring the ideal sites within each vineyard to grow this fickle variety. They're also working out the best clones and the most appropriate vine spacing, and then managing the vine canopy to allow just the right amount of dappled sunlight to reach the ripening bunches. Our vines are getting older, reaching that critical phase of maturity, and yields are managed carefully to coax the maximum from each berry. Once in the winery, the grapes need careful handling due to their thin skins and low phenolic content, so physical pump-overs are kept to a minimum. These days more and more winemakers are including a percentage of stems in the ferment to enhance the aromatic and textural qualities of the finished wine, and oak usage is more skilfully matched to the style being produced. THE STATE OF PLAY OF PINOT Australian viticulturists and winemakers are getting better at producing top quality Pinot with every passing year. And that quality is truly on show in our most recent State of Play tasting. It's been five years since we last had an in-depth look at Pinot Noir in this country. And what a change we've seen in that time! The overall quality of Australian Pinot is certainly on the rise. But what is perhaps the biggest development in the last five years has been the emergence of a potential Pinot giant  in the west . As you will see in our reviews across the following pages, the established Pinot producing regions such as the  Yarra Valley ,  Tasmania  and  Adelaide Hills  are still well represented in our Top 20, but they are joined by newcomers, the cool-climate  Tumbarumba  region of NSW, and an impressively strong showing from the  Great Southern  and  Pemberton  areas of Western Australia. In fact, five wines in the Top 20 are from WA - an amazing statistic given that there were none five years ago. THE EMERGING PINOT GIANT - WA We have seen a marked increase in the number and quality of Pinots coming from the West in recent years, particularly from the vast  Great Southern  area encompassing the five distinct sub-regions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongorup, as well as a secluded pocket of the South West around Pemberton and Manjimup. So what has led to the emergence of WA as a Pinot powerhouse? According to second generation winemaker Rob Wignall, whose father Bill pioneered Pinot production in Albany, there have been a number of small improvements that make up the overall picture. He believes that climate change has been a significant and positive factor, moving the region's climate into more of a semi-Mediterranean situation with mild summer days and a reduction in rainfall throughout the growing season, leading to improvements in disease control and better canopy management. In addition, Rob feels that better oak selection and winemaking practices such as 'cold soaking' of the must prior to fermentation have led to improvements in the finished product. He is also a strong advocate for screw caps, believing that the delicate fruit characters of Pinot really shine under this closure, and that they also enhance the age-ability of the wines. Luke Eckersley, from regional icon Plantagenet Wines in Mt Barker, points to the variations in micro-climates and soil types across the Great Southern region as a factor. "Pinot Noir styles are varied with complex savoury styles from Denmark; elegant perfumed styles from Porongurup; rich fruit driven styles from Mount Barker; big robust styles from Albany; lighter primary fruit styles from Frankland River," he says. Michael Ng, winemaker from Rockcliffe in Denmark, adds that the cool climate with coastal influences allows full flavour development in the fruit, while still allowing for wines of finesse and savoury complexity. And a bit further west, Coby Ladwig of Rosenthal Wines points to the steep hills and valleys of the Pemberton region creating many unique micro-climates that enable varied grape growing conditions, "allowing us to create extremely complex and elegantly styled wines from one region", he says. While neighbouring Manjimup, with an altitude of 300m and therefore the coolest region in Western Australia, has cold nights and warm days ideal for flavour enhancement. PERFECTING THE FUTURE In summary, Pinot Noir in Australia is in a healthy position, with the established regions in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia producing more consistent and ever improving results. Equally exciting are the emerging Pinot Noir regions such as those in WA, as well as Tumbarumba and Orange, that show that the future for Pinot in Australia is bright. So, if you find your Shiraz doesn't love you as much anymore, perhaps look to Pinot, and when doing so, glance west. THE WINE SELECTORS TASTING PANEL The wines in this State of Play were tasted over a dedicated period by the  Wine Selectors Tasting Panel , which is made up of perceptive personalities and palates of winemakers, international wine show judges and wine educators. With an amazing 140 years collective experience, they love wine and they know their stuff.
Food
6 Wines to bring luck and prosperity in the Year of the Rooster
The Lunar New Year is the most significant event on the Asian calendar. While it’s most famously celebrated in China, festivities also take place across East and South East Asians countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. With so many different Asian communities at home here in Australia, Lunar New Year celebrations are getting bigger every year. While each community has its own unique take on the event, common to all is the gathering of friends and family for a traditional feast. At Wine Selectors, we are constantly searching for the perfect union and harmony between wine and food dishes. We’ve selected 6 wines that are the perfect match to Lunar New Year celebrations this year that celebrate the fusion of food, wine, and culture.   LISA MCGUIGAN PINOT GRIS 2015 In China, traditional reunion dinners or ‘Nian Ye Fan’ are celebrated by families on New Year's Eve. They focus around ‘dishes with a meaning’, symbolic usherings for the year ahead, such as luck, prosperity, and good health. In Mandarin, the word for Fish 鱼 (Yú /yoo), sounds like ‘surplus’ and so fish has become synonymous with prosperity and should be intentionally left unfinished during the reunion dinner to enhance this sense of excess and abundance. The Lisa McGuigan Pinot Gris 2015 is the perfect accompaniment to fish dishes due to the tropical fruit flavours and bright acidity, which perfectly complement fresh fish. Matched Recipe:  Sauteed Fish with Celery.   JACKSON’S HILL YARRA VALLEY CHARDONNAY 2016 In the Year of the Rooster, gold and yellow are thought to be lucky colours and also they tie in perfectly with a fine Hunter Valley Chardonnay. The creamy mouthfeel and mid-weight concentration of this wine are a great match for spicy dishes. The savoury, nutty stonefruit flavours in this wine offer fantastic support to dishes with the characteristic sweetness of palm sugar. Matched Recipe:  Stir-fried Chicken with Beans   WILLOW BRIDGE ESTATE DRAGONFLY CHENIN BLANC 2015 In Chinese culture, the dragonfly is associated with prosperity and peace and it’s used as a good luck charm. While we can’t promise you that enjoying the Dragonfly Chenin Blanc from Willow Bridge Estate will bring you good luck, we can promise it’s a delicious match with tofu stir-fry. Its bright and zesty citrus elements complement the understated, creamy flavours in the tofu, while the wheat notes form the udon and the light heat from the chilli are subtly balanced the wine’s weight and texture. Matched Recipe:  Tofu, chilli & Udon noodle stir-fry   RED WINES FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR It’s not just white wines that make great partners to traditional Asian flavours. At Wine Selectors, we’ve found that the light bodied, dark cherry fruits of Pinot Noir work perfectly with delicate dumpling or noodle dishes. The soft velvety plum flavours of a fine Hunter Valley Shiraz match with the sweetness and warmth of many traditional Chinese dishes. While the ripe, soft fruit and tannins of a fine Grenache match perfectly with the refined spice of an East Asian Curry.   NINTH ISLAND PINOT NOIR 2015 This classic Pinot Noir from the north of Tasmania with its soft savoury flavours and a low tannin profile is the perfect accompaniment to traditional Luna New Year ‘lucky dumplings’( 饺子 Jiǎozi) or a sweet pork belly dish. This 2015 vintage is a particularly good choice as the number 5 is a lucky number in the year of the Rooster. Matched Recipe:  Caramelised Pork Belly Salad     YALUMBA OLD BUSH VINE GRENACHE 2014 The complex mix of flavours, texture, and spice in an East Asian curry require a wine that matches its flavour weight, but has a soft mouthfeel and subtle texture. This Old World style Grenache is the perfect fit; it has a soft red cherry intensity delivered with a silky, soft and elegant mouthfeel. Delicious! Matched Recipe:  Malaysian White Curry Chicken     ANDREW THOMAS SYNERGY SHIRAZ 2014 Synergy and harmony are vital during New Year Celebrations, perfectly embodied in this spectacular Shiraz combining select barrels from old vine vineyards. Earthy and rich, yet soft and savoury characters make this Hunter Valley classic from one of the best Hunter vintages in living memory a great match for the weight and depth of flavours in a refined curry dish. The nutty, complex mix of spice and coconut milk in a curry are lifted beautifully by the medium weight dark berry fruit, allspice and cedary elements of this wine. Matched Recipe:  Massaman Curry with Beef   DISCOVER A DELICIOUS FUSION OF FOOD, WINE AND CULTURE THIS LUNAR NEW YEAR To celebrate the Year of the Rooster, Wine Selectors has partnered with Asian Inspirations to hand select six Australian wines that perfectly enhance the authentic Asian flavours of the spectacular recipes in the included recipe booklet. From chicken to pork, fish and beef, and noodles to chilli, curry and soy, the rich flavours of Asian cuisine are on show, providing a plethora of delicious dishes to enjoy. Discover the delicious fusion of food, wine and culture - order now!    
Life
Haigh’s Chocolates – a legacy of quality
Over 100 years ago, Alfred Haigh had grand plans for his new business, but he never would have dreamed of the love the world has developed for his family’s chocolate.  While wine-lovers know South Australia as the home of multi-generational family-owned wineries – Yalumba , Henschke , d’Arenberg , to name a few – for chocolate lovers, the state is synonymous with the multi-generational Haigh family. Today, Haigh’s is in the hands of the fourth generation and in 2015 celebrated its centenary – one of only a few Australian enterprises to have family maintained continuity for 100 years. Beehive Beginnings
The first Haigh’s store opened in Adelaide’s historic Beehive Building in 1915, the dream of Alfred Haigh. Having been a confectioner’s shop, the business came with the former owner’s equipment, moulds, recipes and books – everything a budding self-taught confectioner needed to perfect his craft. Following Alf was his son, Claude, who kept the business humming through the trials of the Depression and war years, while also establishing a name in the thoroughbred racing industry. The 1950s saw Claude’s son John take over after a stint working at Lindt & Sprüngli in Switzerland. This experience was invaluable for both John and Haigh’s, as on his return, he set about revamping the family’s chocolate-making operations. John has been succeeded by his sons, Alister and Simon, who continue the family tradition of producing premium chocolate and expanding the company’s retail network, selling Haigh’s products all over Australia. A caring approach With an eye to Haigh’s continuing well into the future, the family is committed to the environment and sustainability. As such, 80% of its cocoa beans are UTZ-certified , which ensures traceability back to the grower and a fair return for producers and improving the lives of the farming community. The family also prides itself on its cultural, philanthropic and conservation work. So next time you’re savouring a Haigh’s truffle, relishing an Easter bilby or luxuriating in their Original Fruit Chocolates, consider the legacy of quality behind every bite. View the range instore or at  haighschocolates.com.au
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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