(MyRecipes) -- Red wine and chocolate are a darling pair these days. With all those deep, dark chocolate notes right in a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine seems like a natural match for an intensely-flavored, dark chocolate dessert.
Warm chocolate soufflé cake with raspberry sauce is heavenly Valentine Day treat.
But are the two perfect together? Maybe not, according to Sara Schneider, Sunset wine editor.
"Along with those sweet-seeming chocolate flavors and dark berries and plums, good (young) Cabernet Sauvignon has a backbone of tannin that can suddenly taste harsh and astringent when you put it with chocolate, especially if the chocolate is quite sweet," she says.
"Merlot, on the other hand, tends to have softer, rounder tannins under its cocoa and mocha layers; it's often a more seamless partner for chocolate," says Schneider. Watch how to match wines to state of your relationship »
"Consider Zinfandel too. It's a variety that often goes way beyond "hints of chocolate" to practically being chocolate coated--and it rarely has the tannin level of Cab and Merlot (Bordeaux varieties)."
Tips for pairing:
• The chocolate shouldn't be sweeter than the wine.
• The darker the chocolate, the more likely it will be to taste good with red wine (partly because chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao has less sugar).
• The darker chocolates, with deep-roasted flavors, pair well with wines with dark, toasty notes themselves.
• Port-style and sweet late-harvest reds tend to be the best matches for chocolate desserts.
An ideal couple
Here are some of Schneider's favorite chocolate desserts with her suggestions for the perfect wine partner.
• The flavors of warm chocolate souffle cakes with raspberry sauce explode when paired with a late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc or a late-harvest Chenin Blanc.
• A sweet sparkling rosé adds extra sparkle to chocolate fudge cheesecake.
• A tawny Port or an orange Muscat are the perfect match for bourbon pecan tart with chocolate drizzle.
• Give chocolate-chip shortcakes with berries and dark chocolate sauce a try with a late-harvest Zinfandel.
Taste the magic
• Try a new line of quality chocolate introduced at the San Diego Fancy Food Show in January 2008. Brix: Chocolate For Wine Lovers are milk and dark chocolate bricks specially designed to complement the various varietals of wine. Watch where to getaway in wine country »
• Get saucy with two wine-flavored chocolate sauces from Caramoomel, Wine Lovers Dark Chocolate Sauce with Merlot and Wine Lovers White Chocolate Sauce with Riesling. Both are smooth, silky, and perfect for a drizzle on ice cream, cake, or fresh fruit.
• Next time you're in St. Louis, enjoy a wine and chocolate pairing at the dine-in location of one of the forerunners in the chocolate biz, Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier. Culinary and wine experts Margaret Kelly and Dave Owens are responsible for pairing their decadent chocolate confections with various varietals at Bissinger's: A Chocolate Experience.
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