Craft Chocolate and Sparkling Wine
5th April 2023
When it comes to pairing wine with food, or in this case chocolate with sparkling wine, the first -unwritten- rule would be: there are no rules, if you like it, you have it then your way. The second sort of rule would be: “what grows together goes together”. Now, this does not apply to chocolate and (sparkling) wine pairings as the main ingredients are grown at different latitudes on the Earth. The third rule would be a bit more scientific and requires quite some experimenting, yet it can be very rewarding in the end. The details follow below, after the definition of “craft chocolate”.
Let’s define craft chocolate
The entire production from the cacao bean to the finished product can be traced, including the farmers, roasting, grinding, conching and moulding of the bar. Also known as bean-to-bar whereby a specific region or origin will add to the final taste together with the chocolate maker’s touch. Overall, it is a commitment to transparency, quality, and fairness, not to mention an ingredient list which is minimalistic, and everybody understands.
Matching, the class of aromas and taste
The style and sugar content of the sparkling wine is on one side, while the cocoa content and main flavour notes of the chocolate are on the other side. A light-bodied sparkling wine with some residual sugar, like Prosecco, may go well with a lower cacao content of around 50% to 60% as there is less astringency to clash.
Yet a good alternative would be dark milk chocolate as well, the subtle creamy sweetness could well balance with the fresh, and fruity style of the fizz.
When it comes to Champagne, personal taste and rule number one kick in. Yet the bright delicately bitter-fruity tone of the chocolate could be a fantastic match with the chalky mineral texture, and freshness in the Champagne. Citrus, red-berry driven chocolate from Tanzania would be a great compliment to the biscuit, with creamy notes of a fine blanc de noir Champagne. A full-bodied chocolate style could be from Central- or South America, like some products from Colombia which may pair well with a richer vintage-style sparkling wine. Open-mindedness and experimenting with different textures, aromas/flavours, tastes, and styles of sparkling wine and chocolate could be ultimately a fun game as well.
It is worth thinking about the individual component of each product and seeing if there is harmony or complementary action.
At the end of the day, it is all about exploring new aromas, and flavours, and discovering the nuances that bring joy to these wonderful products.
Kristian Kielmayer, Dip WSET, certified sommelier
Kristian Kielmayer BA, DipWSET
Economist with a degree in oenology, diploma holder of the WSET and certified sommelier by the CMS. He is a colourful, passionate communicator and a great storyteller and an educator.