I have never really subscribed to the idea that chocolate matches with wine - far better in my view is dark chocolate, espresso and a single malt whisky.
The only exceptions to this are good quality basic ruby port and Banyuls.
These chocolates claim to match with wine and even go so far a to list some very specific-yet-general suggested matches - Merlot for the Ecuador, Dornfelder for the Ghana and most implausibly of all Huxelrebe late harvest for the Java.
The little I know about chocolate goes like this:
- The best is from South America, middling stuff is from Africa and anything from Asia is junk.
- like a good Champagne, decent chocolate needs only a low dosage of added sugar, preferably under 10%.
The golden rule of matching sweet foods and wine is that the wine has to be sweeter than the food.
Unable to find a Gewuerztraminer or Scheurebe late harvest as recommended by the list, I tried them first alone and then with a glass of Rioja. In no cases was the wine enhanced by the chocolate.
Predictably, given the high levels of added sugar (cocoa levels are from 85% to just 34%), these chocolates do not match with dry wines.
Overall, the best are pleasant enough, others middling and the most highly-sugared utterly forgettable.
Ecuador (52% cocoa) - smooth and pleasant but lacks bitterness or complexity; does not improve the wine. This one is supposed to match with Merlot, Pinot Noir and Grenache.
Santa Domingo (71% cocoa) - darker, aromatic and bitter and a little more complex; again, doesn't go well with the Rioja, despite a supposed match with Tempranillo.
Ghana (85% cocoa) - smooth and buttery, largely flavourless. Closest to a match with the wine (as in, does not make it taste actively unpleasant). Supposedly goes with Bordeaux, Malbec, Dornfelder and PX.
Venezuela (43% cocoa) - rich, sweet and creamy, like a superior mass-market chocolate. Makes the wine taste actively unpleasant. I can't see this matching with the recommended Gewurztraminer.
Java (34% cocoa) - sweet, sugary milk chocolate. No flavour, just sweetness. I don't even try the wine with something this sweet. I've never had either of the recommended wines suggested here; Kerner late harvest and Huxelrebe late harvest.
Costa Rica (38% cocoa) - more sweet, sugary milk chocolate. I can't believe this would ever match with the recommended Sauternes.
So, uninspiring chocolates and unsuccessful suggested matches; on the plus side, though, it comes packaged in a nice box.
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