Everybody loves chocolate, so it’s no surprise people are pairing wine and chocolate these days.
“Chocolate and wine work well together because chocolate is a complex flavor. Notes of fruit, smoke, and earthiness can be found in chocolate and complimented by wine,” says Lea Williams, wine director/sommelier at Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar in New York.
But the flavors of chocolate and wine aren't always that compatible. And chocolate is the culprit.
For starters there's all that sugar. Sugar generally requires more sugar to achieve a balanced food and wine pairing. In addition, sugar can highlight the acid of a particularly high-acid wine, while at the same time it can make a low-acid wine seem remarkably dull and flat.
And to make things more complicated, chocolate is often simultaneously sweet, bitter, acidic and fruity. That means that a wine needs to be similarly intense if it's going to pair well with chocolate. A light red or a white wine won't taste like anything after a bite of a good-quality chocolate bar.
The good news is that Ayza, which has two locations in Manhattan, takes all the guess work out. The wine bar features more than 100 carefully-selected wines from all over the world and beautifully pairs them with different chocolates to ensure the most decadent experience.
But if you want to try your own pairing at home this Valentine’s Day, Williams suggests you choose three wines: a white, a big red and a dessert wine, like a port. Pair the white wine with milk chocolate, the big red with some dark chocolate, and the port with a nutty chocolate.
Sounds like the perfect Valentine’s Day.
Questions for Our Wine Pro
What is your death row wine?
If it was my last day on Earth, I would request a champagne. Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvee. It is elegance at its best. Rich, complex and full bodied. De-lish!
What region produces the best wine?
Forgive me for sounding cliche, but I the French really know what they are doing. They consistently produce amazing wines. California is a very close second.
What will the U.S. wine industry look like in 10 years?
I think that within the next 10 years Americans will be consume significantly more wine (currently wine consumption is significantly low compared to that of beer and spirits). We will also consume more American wine, we currently tend to consume more old world wines. Its looking very good for us.
Check out Tracy's live-streaming show every day from 1-2pm ET and Wine With Me Wednesdays at 1:40pm ET