Skip to main content
newsletter

I’m looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift for my spouse. Can you suggest a good dry red wine to go with chocolate?

Unlike the old Reese’s commercial where chocolate and peanut butter were celebrated as “two great tastes that taste great together,” convention says pairing chocolate and wine doesn’t usually work.

The golden rule for pairing wine with sweet foods is that the wine should be sweeter than the dish. Chocolate is a tricky match. While the styles of wines people most enjoy today may be ripe and fruity, they’re not sweet.

I’m not fond of full-bodied dry red wines with dark chocolate, but Instagram and other social media sites suggest many are. #ChacunSonGout

The classic match for chocolate or chocolate-based desserts would be fortified wines, such as pedro ximénez sherries or ruby, tawny and vintage ports. My personal ride-or-die suggestion for anything chocolatey – from a simple dark chocolate square to desserts boasting the words decadent, triple chocolate or molten in their name – would be Southbrook Canadian Framboise, a delicious fortified sweet raspberry wine that sells for $19.85 for a half bottle, available direct from the winery (southbrook.com). These wines work because they are sweeter and richer in flavour than most chocolate dishes.

Of course, pairing wine and food is subjective. The established guideline results in a match that flatters both sides of the equation, the wine and the dish.

But chances are if you truly love a particular wine and wish to sip it with your choice of chocolate bar, you’ll likely enjoy the experience. You’re basically looking to avoid the gag-inducing reaction of drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth with mint toothpaste.

Things to consider are the type of chocolate and if there are other flavours involved. An orange-flavoured chocolate dessert could suggest different wine styles than a caramel or chili-spiced one.

Considering you’re after a Valentine’s Day gift, why not enjoy the moment? Pick up a bottle of dry red wine, say, a popular cabernet or Syrah, and a bottle of an affordable ruby or reserve port from a good producer, such as Delaforce, Taylor Fladgate or Quinta do Noval. Taste them both with some chocolate and see which you prefer drinking by itself and which shows off the chocolate best.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to The Globe. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Good Taste newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.