A few years ago the idea of combining wine and chocolate would’ve sounded pretty out there. Lately, however, public interest towards those sinfully scrumptious cocoa delicacies has increased, with little chocolatiers popping up here and there, and this less than obvious pairing of vices is starting to attract adventurous taste buds. A wine-and-chocolate tasting is now on the programme of the Helsinki Chocolate Festival.

According to wine consultant Mika Vanne, one of the organisers of the tasting, there are no hard and fast rules to combining chocolate and wine.

“The basic idea is the same as pairing cheeses and wines, or any kind of food and beverage for that matter,” Vanne explains. “The product, usually food, has attributes and qualities which affect whatever comes afterwards, in this case wine.”

In general, salty or acidic food makes the wine taste softer and brings out fruity qualities. A sweet flavour, like chocolate, accentuates the wine’s harder and sharper qualities. The texture of the food also has an effect. A fatty product like chocolate overpowers the tactile sense, making it difficult to find a wine that would complement it.

Try these:

Dark chocolate Something with plenty of alcohol,
some sweetness but fewer tannins, e.g. a port or
a sweet red like Reciotto.

White chocolate A sweet white dessert wine
or tawny port.

Milk chocolate A sufficiently acidic fruity white
wine with a bit of sweetness.

Of course, in addition to cocoa content, chocolates vary according to other components such as nuts, nougats and other fillings they may contain. So what kind of wine would Vanne recommend to accompany, say, a Mars bar with its creamy caramel filling and subtle hints of vanilla fudge?

“I might try something like a medium-dry white wine with a bit of acidity, that would hold up to the fatty chocolate, or a sweet sparkling wine.”

Matti Koskinen

21 & 22 Nov
Helsinki Chocolate Festival at Wanha Satama.