Approx 730 words.
You heard it here first: wine and chocolate is this year’s wine and cheese. Drinks product developer Jonathan Howard shows you how to create perfect pairings, including plenty of fantastic Co-op Fairtrade wine and Irresistible chocolate to try at home.
Do chocolate and wine actually work together?
Pairing one intensely flavoured thing with another might seem overkill, but chocolate and wine — if you select the right ones — can work surprisingly well together. It’s a fine balance to get the acidity and flavours just right, but as a general rule of thumb, the more intense the flavour of chocolate, the bolder the wine should be (and vice versa).
How to pair chocolate with wine
Dark chocolate is, I think, the most versatile chocolate to pair with wine. Its deep, complex flavour, bursting with bitter characteristics, means it works well with various types of grape. To contrast the chocolate’s rich and roasted notes, look for wines with accents of sweetness, smokiness, berries or citrus.
A full-bodied red is my go-to, but take care when selecting the right one. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids in the chocolate, the bolder the wine needs to be. Smooth, rich and plummy reds are made for bars with an intense, roasted flavour.
Try Co-op Irresistible Fairtrade 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate with Co-op Fairtrade Cabernet Sauvignon.The chocolate’s intense cocoa flavour is a great match for the concentrated fruit, spicy overtones and firm tannins of the wine.
Or, for a fruity duo, pair Co-op Irresistible Dark Chocolate with Orange and Co-op Fairtrade Chardonnay. The zesty orange flavours in the chocolate pair beautifully with the aromas of citrus and tropical fruits in the wine.
Tip: Dark chocolate pairs well with other drinks, too, including stouts, porters and dark spirits. Looking for booze-free options? Try non-alcoholic drinks with punchy flavours, such as ginger beer, coffee or dandelion and burdock.
Milk chocolate can be a little trickier to pair, as its creamy texture and sweet flavour can clash with rich red wines. I tend to stick to ripe, dry whites when tasting milk chocolate — they cut through the richness but complement the flavour of the cocoa.
Or, if you’re going to choose a sweeter wine, look for one with notes of honey or caramel to offset similar characteristics in the chocolate.
Tip: Milk chocolate also works well with nutty spirits, such as amaretto. For non-alcoholic options, honey-sweetened black tea and milk-based coffee drinks make a delicious choice. Or, why not try cola for a surprising pairing? Its caramel flavour makes it a great match, while the fizziness cuts through the richness of the chocolate.
White chocolate has a very sweet, almost buttery, flavour, with notes of vanilla and caramel. It’s certainly the creamiest of the three types and works with slightly acidic wines. Look out for rosés with red berry characteristics, which will accentuate the notes of vanilla and cocoa in the chocolate. Co-op Fairtrade Rosé is an excellent option. The delicate aroma of red fruit and blackberries in the wine contrasts the velvety, creamy chocolate.
Choose Fairtrade and support communities around the world
All the wine and chocolate in this blog are certified Fairtrade, which stands for a better way of doing business for farmers and producers. Every time you buy a bottle of Fairtrade wine, or one of our Fairtrade chocolate bars, you’re ensuring the sustainable livelihoods of producers. Only Fairtrade:
- Pays producers fairly;
- Gives producers control over their future;
- Does the right thing by both people and the planet, and;
- Strengthens communities around the world.
This Fairtrade Fortnight, we want to tell people why Fairtrade is the gold standard, and tell stories of our producers to show how Fairtrade helps to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change. You can view our digital Fairtrade pack here to find out more. And join in the conversation on social, using the hashtag #ChooseFairtrade and tagging us at @CoopUK
It’s not just our wine and chocolate that’s Fairtrade! Take a look at our full Fairtrade range or watch the video below to find out why buying our Fairtrade chocolate supports women in the cocoa industry.
Learn more about Fairtrade in the ethical shopping episode of our ‘In it Together’ podcast at coop.co.uk/podcast.
Drinks product developer