Wine and Chocolate Pairing Tips


By Peggy Fiandaca, co-owner of LDV Winery in Arizona


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Peggy Fiandaca shares tips on pairing wine and chocolate, gives a winter vineyard update, and discusses the term “riddling.” Watch here in the YouTube player, download the podcast on PodBean, or listen to it on the new “Big Daily Blend” show on the Spotify App.


General Rules

  • Chocolate is one of the hardest foods to pair with wine.
  • Key to pairing wine and chocolate is to identify which flavor profile of the wine you want to accentuate.
  • The more intense the chocolate (80% plus cacao) is the more intense the wine.


Chocolate & Wine Similarities

Chocolate has tannins, just like wine. You’ll experience the drying effect, as well as stringency, which makes your mouth pucker and is the most common sensation associated with tannin. Cacao beans, like wine grapes, undergo fermentation to soften and round out or remove tannins. Cacao beans are naturally fruity meaning chocolate can pair well with a fruity red wine.


Wine Pairing Tips

  • Avoid white or sparkling wine with chocolate (high acid/low tannin with bittersweet chocolate; wine tastes sour).
  • Select a bold wine with medium tannins to stand up to semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate.
  • Try sweet, fortified wines match well with chocolate.
  • Milk chocolate (sweetest of all chocolates) pair with dry reds with softer tannins such as Pinot Noir or Merlot.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate with its higher cacao content (at least 35% can be paired with a slightly more intense wine, like rich, fruity Zinfandel and Syrah.
  • Bittersweet chocolate (more than 70% cacao) pair with tannic reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


Last Note

Keep the sweetness in balance. The wine should be a bit sweeter than the chocolate to avoid making the wine seem dull, bitter, or sour.

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