Like any relationship, the one between wine and chocolate requires care and attention.
“It’s beautiful when you have the right wine and the right chocolate, ” said Allison Palermo-Record, who co-owns The Savvy Wine Cellar in Camillus with her husband, Dale Record.
The Abbey Hot Lips candy from Lune Chocolate (molded to the shape of lips), sits atop a bottle of Italian Spumante it was paired with at the Savvy Wine Cellar. Michelle Gabel / the Post-Standard
The wrong pairing, she warns, can leave you with a bitter or sour taste. (Just like some relationships, right?)
For this Valentine’s Day, we teamed up the folks at The Savvy Wine Cellar with the owners of Lune Chocolate, a candy-maker from across the county, in Manlius.
Their mission: Help explain the attraction between wine and chocolate, and why the match can be so attractive to us.
“When you think about it, there really are a lot of similarities,” said Mike Woloszyn, who co-owns Lune Chocolate with his wife, Emily. “Both can have earthy flavors, or oak or berry. You can pick up the same flavors in wine and in chocolate.”
Palermo-Record offers these general rules for choosing the right pairing:
- Make sure the chocolate is not sweeter than the wine. That leads to a bitter taste that impairs both. Look for more bitter chocolates for drier wines.
- Use high quality chocolates. (It’s Valentine’s, so go ahead and splurge).
- Color coding: Pair darker chocolates with darker reds, for example. When choosing whites, generally go with an oaked wine, like an oak-aged chardonnay, for a buttery flavor that matches the chocolate.
- Strong, intense and heavy chocolates match well with full-bodied wines.
- Taste the wine first, then the chocolate, then keep alternating. You’ll find new flavors as you go on. And if you’re doing more than one pair, try to move from light to dark and from dry to sweet. (Or have some water handy to cleanse the palate.)
- Match flavor with flavor. A candy with some citrus flavoring can pair with a citrusy wine, for example.
- Experiment. And have fun.
“Chocolate and wine are two things that make you feel incredibly happy,” Mike Woloszyn said. “When you put them together, that’s twice the happiness.”
For a closer look at how wine/chocolate pairings work, check out these matches made from wines selected by The Savvy Wine Cellar and candies made by Lune Chocolate, with comments from the owners of both shops.
“Light & Sparkly”
The chocolate: Citron Framboise. It’s a tart white chocolate-based lemon ganache rolled in raspberry dust.
The wine: Saint Valentine “I Love You” sparkling wine, (no vintage), from Villa Jolanda in Veneto, Italy. It’s slightly fruity and dry, with an apple aroma.
Why it works: This combo is light, refreshing and “sparkly,” the tasters agreed. “They’re both pretty,” Palermo-Record said.
“Tropical & Refreshing”
The chocolate: Mango (Loves) Lime. This is a white-chocolate ganache with fruity flavors of tart lime and sweet mango, in a 60 percent dark chocolate shell.
The wine: Cayuga Lake Riesling (2012), from Heart and Hands Winery of Union Springs. A fruity wine, with mango, kiwi and guava in the aroma, and lavender and pineapple in the finish.
Why it works: It offers a “series of flavors,” Mike Woloszyn said, that include kiwi, guava, lime and mango. Totally refreshing, the tasters agreed.
“Straight-up & Simple.”
The chocolate: Chocolate-Chocolate. It’s a dark chocolate truffle rolled in 60 percent dark cacao powder.
The wine: Hot to Trot Red Blend (2012), from 14 Hands Winery, of Columbia Valley Washington. A soft and easy red with plenty of dark berry notes.
Why it works: This a “straight up” mix of nothing but chocolate and red berry fruits in the wine. “It’s works because it’s simple,” Mike Woloszyn said.
“Fruity & Spicy”
The chocolate: Cherries and Cardamom, A dark ganache with heavy notes of cherries and cardamom, in a 60 percent dark chocolate shell.
The wine: Field Blend Lot No. 7 (2010), from R Collection, of Napa, Calif. Lots of red raspberry and Bing cherry on the nose, followed by notes of anise, plum pudding and cardamom and a tobacco finish.
Why it works: A fairly complex combination, linked by the fruit flavors and hints of cardamom spice in both. “The cardamom makes the flavors pop,” Palermo-Record said.
The chocolate: Strawberries & Champagne. Layers of strawberry ganache and a champagne ganache inside a milk and dark chocolate shell.
The wine: Pink Moscato (2012) from Mochetto in Venezie, Italy. A slightly effervescent Rosato wine, with bright peach and fruit notes and a hint of roses.
Why it works: “All the flavors of Valentine’s” are in this pairing, Mike Woloszyn said. The strawberries really shine, the tasters agreed.
“Surprising & Explosive”
The chocolate: Abbey Hot lips. This is a signature of Lune Chocolate, a combination of 60 percent dark chocolate with rum and habanero pepper, in a mold shaped like lips.
The wine: IL Vino dell’Amore Spumante (NV), from Petalo of northeast Italy. A delicate and sweet sparkling wine with a subtle scent of roses, plus peach and apple.
Why it works: The habanero pepper in the candy builds the heat, and the sweet wine cools it off, with chocolate, rum and roses in the mix. “Everything here plays off the other things,” Dale Record said.