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It's Chocolate Week, let's talk Wine.

Monday October 8th heralds the arrival of Chocolate Week 2012. A celebration of all things cocoa so this week we'll be guiding you through how wine and chocolate can be the perfect match. First we'll consider some wines that pair well with chocolate. Then we'll look at how chocolate can be used as an ingredient in savoury cooking along with the wines to match before guiding you through how specific chocolate friendly wine is made. Chocolate and wine matchingSo, today's offering looks at some possible choices for wine and chocolate.

Dark chocolate and wine matching

The darker the better and the higher the cocoa solids content the better. This is the really bitter chocolate that you don't need a lot of to feel its effect and don't forget the bonus is that it is full of antioxidants too. My advice for all chocolate would be to get the best you can afford. You really do eat less of it because the flavour is so much more intense. Chocolate of this quality will always be on the bitter side but there are often other underlying flavours that add to the complexity and depth too. Some have citrussy notes, some are nutty, others can be smoky or mocha so just as with any food, match the wine accordingly. Here are my top 3 wines to match to dark chocolate: Henri Milan 'Le Vallon', Provence 2007 - a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon this wine is cram packed full of flavour. Jammy notes from the Grenache, soft spice from the Syrah, elegance from the Cinsault and the Cabernet Sauvignon adds deep black fruit and a slightly minty, herby finish. Enjoy it with a chocolate that has plenty of layers of fruity, nutty notes. Domaine Parigot Savigny-Les -Beaunes 'Les Vergelesses' 1er Cru 2008 - Pinot Noir is not usually an obvious choice to match with chocolate but this one can certainly stand up for itself. It is smoky and packed with ripe red fruit so match with a citrussy chocolate with a high cocoa content to balance the freshness and punch. Domaine Duveau 'La Poda Corta' Carmenere 2009 - Carmenere has come to be known as the 'chocolate' wine. It is dense and fruity with great weight and a lovely earthy, smoky character. The French Oak barrels in which it was matured add a smooth chocolatey vanilla quality which makes it ideal to match to very smooth, rich dark chocolate.

Milk chocolate and wine matching

Milk chocolate is a different story as the texture is much smoother and because there is more sugar it is obviously sweeter to taste. Therefore we need wines that are either very smooth or very sweet. I have chosen one of each that would both work but for totally different reasons: Chateau Chantelune, Margaux 2007 - Merlot is one of the smoothest of the red grape varieties and in this wine it dominates. Combine this with 20 months spent maturing in new French oak barrels and the result is a ripe, rich velvety wine. Match it with very rich, smooth milk chocolate. Mas Amiel,  Maury 2008 - Maury is a wine made from Grenache grapes that have been left on the vine longer than normal to really intensify the flavours and sweetness. The result is a wine that is sweet and luscious with dense fruits, unctuous texture but still with a fresh acidity that cleans the palate. It is perfect with chocolate as it is but is even better if the chocolate is in a dessert. Think chocolate torte with raspberries or truffles for a decandent evening treat.   So, sit back and enjoy chocolate and wine this week and treat yourself to a little indulgence.    

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