Champagne & Chocolate: Yes or No?
15th December 2020
I am quite surprised how, what will sound to many as, the perfect pairing can also generate much opposition and especially from wine professionals. It is quite simply a love or hate combination, it’s either yes or its a cardinal sin of judgements – I want to take a look at pairing Champagne and Chocolate nonetheless.
Many fine establishments including hotels will use the lure of Champagne and Chocolate to enhance the appeal to guests for the likes of dining / those overnight stays. From fine luxury Belgian Chocolates to strawberries dipped within, amazing Michelin star desserts to a chunky bar all to yourself sat on a comfy sofa watching your favourite romantic movie on the box. A glass of bubbly and some chocolate will sound like sheer bliss to many people and how it appears so frequently during romantic scenes in everyday life as well as boldly gracing the theme of Valentines Day every year.
Chocolate is also a very popular choice for dessert and many fine dishes will see ‘chocolate’ in the title – Champagne is many times paired with such gastronomic delights. They will less likely be a purely a 100% chocolate recipe and instead have additional ingredients, so to take away the intensity, such as pastry, fruits, cream and more.
“Champagne and Chocolate is a popular combination no matter what your view point is. For consumers it is a wonderful ‘spoil yourself’ combination and firmly fixed within relevant marketing campaigns for many things romantic – There is a total of 314 million search results when you type in these two words in to Google so it is for sure a popular topic! Though the pairing seems to be ‘perfect’, it is also a very delicate one and needs a little bit of forward thinking in order to make sure that the pairing tastes as good as it sounds!” Christopher Walkey
Both Champagne and chocolate are quite reactive in the palate, both very much of the mouth watering character, I am sure that even the mention and reading of these words ignites some reaction in your mouth. Both can also vary in the amount of sugar / sweetness they hold from zero up to a fair amount each – In some ways, their colours also run in unison from white with both to rosés and dark. Another similarity between both is the quality where one can either opt for the cheaper version as well as the top level in both quality and price.
Pairing Champagne and Chocolate
We need to be careful when we pair Champagne and chocolate, it isn’t necessarily an automatic match made in heaven. Because of the varied styles of each, we can have both great pairings though we can also have tremendous clashes. As with all food pairings, there are some basic points to take into consideration.
Many Champagne evenings have involved fine chocolate delights – Here with Vivino App & Laurent Perrier sponsors
As we discussed, both Champagne and chocolate can come in quite varied styles, they offer the palate sweetness, zestiness, crispness, dryness, fruity, salty, buttery, floral and much more. Chocolate especially can take on many variations not only in the style of plain and milky chocolates, but also with those that are white, those with additional flavouring such as mint to chocolates with fillings / additions from hazelnuts to liquors within.
Quality and style will enhance your tasting experience, I would say quality more on the chocolate side and pairing the correct style of Champagne. Sweeter chocolate will pair better with a sweeter style of Champagne. A chocolate with a higher level of cacao and sugar free will be very dry and bitter in the palate and will be harder to pair with a Champagne. Not all chocolate styles will pair well with Champagne so either it is best to enjoy each alone or with a different style of sparkling wine / wine / alcoholic drink.
Basic examples of Champagne pairings for chocolate
- White Chocolate (in fact no cacao involved, only cacao butter, sugar and milk solids): (Demi-Sec, doux style)
- Milky sweeter chocolate: (Sweeter Brut, Demi-sec)
- 50% cacao chocolate reduced sugar: (Pinot noir Brut, Rosé)
- 100% cacao chocolate with 0% sugars added: (Much harder to pair – In fact better with red sparkling wines rather than Champagne)
In most situations, the Champagne will not be enhanced by pairing with chocolate on its own. You will be much better enjoying delicate artisan / gourmet chocolates with fillings such as pistachio or caramel.
“It is very difficult to make this association without knowing the quality of chocolate and champagne. That’s why I organize workshop ‘Champagne & Chocolate’ all year in my Champagne house.” James Richard-Flimiaux
Without doubt, Champagne and chocolate is a perfect ‘me time‘ sensation which for many it will be the experience of enjoying each separately over the pairing experience. Another important point is that we all have our preferences and what one person doesn’t like, another will so even for Champagne and chocolate pairings we will see differencing opinions.
Recommended Champagne and chocolate combination
During my visit to the Champagne this summertime I was pleasantly surprised that at one organised tasting in Aÿ I was presented not only with Champagne, but also a selection of chocolates to pair with them. With much excitement to know what my feedback would be, James our host and winemaker sat down and prepared himself for my pairing notes…
“The magic happens when the association is perfect. We worked for a long time with my chocolate maker friend (Xavier Thibaut in Pierry) to find the best combination. Everything happens in the mouth. The chocolate should not be predominant, with aromas similar to those one you can find in the champagne.” James Richard-Flimiaux
The Champagne family producer of Nadège & James RICHARD-FLINIAUX (Mother and Son) produces award winning Champagnes in the highly regarded village of Aÿ. There is a definite focus on quality over quantity and I feel also much appreciation on the subject of pairing their Champagne with food. You will see many events enabling you to enjoy their Champagne along with gastronomical delights – You will also see much dedicated to tastings of ‘Champagne & Chocolat’.
Champagne Richard-Fliniaux – Divine Terre Promise d’Ageius – Tasting Notes: “Gold Medal Winner ‘Gastronomic‘ 2020 – This fine, limited edition, Champagne really embraces the role of being an excellent partner to many fine cuisines. This Grand Cru spends time in oak and this really shows in wonderful deep toasty and yellow fruit aromas along with notable ripe apricot skin, honeysuckle and yellow blossom. Yellow fruit acidity with a subtle citrus acidity in length with the flavours with a length giving it a toasty citrus.”
Paired with La Chocolaterie Thibault: “Chocolate filling of pistachio. The strength of the Champagne gives a citrus burst initially and a palate cleanse – The milky chocolate texture in mid length with bolder yellow fruits from the Champagne in the length with a touch of sea breeze at the close.”
Divine Terre Promise d’Ageius available to purchase online directly from the Champagne house here: https://glassofbubbly.com/product/champagne-richard-fliniaux-divine-terre-promise-dageius/
Champagne Richard-Fliniaux – Experience N°1 – Tasting Notes: “Silver Medal Winner ‘Classic & Elegant‘ 2020 – A fresh light toasted bread, touch of hazelnut, yellow blossom / fleshy fruit nose. Nutty style, fresh greengage and peach flesh flavours. Touch of saltiness / wet stones / chalk. A bold Champagne. Gastronomy wine.”
Paired with La Chocolaterie Thibault: “Chocolate filling of almond. The chocolate is very delicate and not at all heavy even with the filling. The Champagne hits the palate and pushes away all silky texture to leave almond and zesty yellow fruits with a citrus pastry in length with once again a sea breeze ending.”
Experience N°1 available to purchase online directly from the Champagne house here: https://glassofbubbly.com/product/champagne-richard-fliniaux-experience-n1/
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.