In case it’s escaped your notice, it’s Chocolate Week this week (as if we needed any encouragement), a good opportunity to debunk the myth that wine doesn’t go with chocolate. Sure, a light dessert wine will be overwhelmed by a molten chocolate fondant pudding – like any other aspect of food and wine pairing, it’s all about balancing food and drink of a similar intensity – but you can find a white or milk chocolate dessert that won’t.
The most useful approach, I find, is to think of fruits that go with chocolate. Top of the list, therefore, are wines that taste of raspberries, cherries or plums. A good example of the last is Waitrose‘s new Seriously Plummy Maury (despite the silly name), a “vin doux naturel” from the south of France that’s similar to but, at 16% abv, quite a bit lighter than port and good value at £9.99 a 50cl bottle. Sparkling reds such as sparkling shiraz and Brown Brothers’ off-dry Cienna Rosso (Waitrose, £9.99; 7.5% abv) also work well with dark chocolate or, for a more off-the-wall choice, try Japanese umeshu plum wine, which you can find in specialist Japanese shops or at online retailers such as thedrinkshop.com. (It’s actually more a liqueur than a wine, but it’s delicious nonetheless.)
Dark chocolate and orange is another spot-on pairing (think Terry’s chocolate orange). My favourite is the rich, marmaladey Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro (£8.99 for 50cl Morrisons and Waitrose, £9.99 at Majestic; 15% abv).
Chocolate-friendly dried fruits such as raisins and figs can be reflected in wines such as sweet madeira and cream sherries, which are a good match for richer chocolate cakes and puddings. Add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and a glug – or a glass – of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference 12-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez (£7.99 for 50cl; 18% abv) and you’ll keep the sweetest of sweet-toothed guests happy.
Think nut- and toffee-flavoured drinks, too. My best recent discovery is Bleasedale The Wise One Tawny 10-Year-Old (£10.50, The Wine Society). You’ll have to be careful for whom you pour this – older rellies may feel you’re taking the mick – but it’s the most sublime drink, drier than a liqueur muscat and less spirity than a tawny port, despite its 18.5% abv. It would be perfect with Dan Lepard’s chequerboard biscuits and dark chocolate mousse this week, or with chocolate and hazelnut brownies. You may never eat chocolate without a nip of something sweet and sticky again. Apologies for that.
Photographs: Full Stop Photography
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.