Whether you’re expecting an Easter chocolate windfall, or you just fancy pairing two of your favourite things in life, Fiona Beckett is here to help.
The idea that chocolate is ruinous to wine is still widely held but, as many of you will know, the problem is overstated.
Yes, it can be difficult to find a wine to match a molten chocolate fondant (PX Sherry just about manages), but there are many other chocolate desserts – and chocolates – which can be flattered by a fine wine match.
Three things to consider:
The three main things to consider when working out what to drink are:
- The type of chocolate – white and milk chocolate being generally easier to match than dark
- Is the dish hot or cold – cold is more wine-friendly
- What other ingredients are on the plate? Cherries, for example, might lead you to a sweet red like a Recioto or a late harvest Zinfandel rather than a white.
In fact, it’s a useful tip to think of the sort of fruit that might work with a particular type of chocolate and find a wine that includes those flavours – dark chocolate and orangey moscatel, for instance.
‘For me, the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert’
It also depends on how much of a sweet tooth you have. For some – myself included – an Australian liqueur muscat would just add too much sweetness to a rich chocolate dessert. I prefer a sweet Sherry or Madeira with more acidity, for others it would be bliss.
By contrast, not everyone would enjoy a Barolo Chinato which I find the most marvellous match for a slender square of fine dark chocolate. I’m also not a fan of pairing full-bodied red wines with chocolate although I know many are.
For me the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert.
Lighter desserts with lighter wines
In general lighter dessert wines such as Sauternes, Riesling and Moscato work best with lighter chocolate desserts, and richer ones such as Tokaji and fortified wines with darker, denser ones.
Finally, bear in mind it may be a question of you could, but why would you? If you love Château d’Yquem Sauternes then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it with a Mars bar or a slice of devil’s food cake, but there are so many sweet (and savoury) foods that would show it off better.
Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributor and a food and wine pairing expert with her own website, matchingfoodandwine.com
Pie and wine.
Could it be the fastest way to get a hangover? Possibly. Still, you’re only human. It’s your errant human nature that leads to the occasional, insatiable craving. Be it pie and wine or worse: that pink cheetah print jumper you have in your closet.
So, if you’re going in deep, you might as well do it right.
To that effect, here is an ill-advised, yet delightful journey to find the best possible pie and wine pairings. Prepare to make enemies with your dentist.
Pie and Wine Pairings Done Right
Apple Pie and Dry Marsala
Commonly used in cooking and the creation of rich, caramelized sauces, dry Marsala makes an excellent pairing with apple pie, bringing flavors of foraged nuts, vanilla, and citrus rind to America’s favorite pie. Of course, if you’re a wine geek, you know that Marsala isn’t the only dessert wine from Sicily! The high-brow alternative would be something like Marco de Bartoli’s “Vecchio Samperi,” which is this whacky, crazy-delicious, un-fortified un-Marsala that’s 100% Grillo. Mic drop.
Pumpkin Pie and 20-Year Tawny Port
When it comes to pumpkin pie pairings, after-dinner coffee is no match for a quality port. This pie begs for more sweetness. Enter Tawny Port. More aged and oxidative than its ruby cousins, the dried orange, fig, toffee, and spices found in 20-year Tawny is something that will make your friend’s experimental vegan pumpkin pie palatable. (The keyword here is “palatable.”)
Pecan Pie and Gamay
Pairing pecan pie with wine can be bittersweet—literally. High tannin in the nuts combined with sugary, caramelized crust: it’s a real challenge. If you must have wine, the fruity, juicy, spicy Gamay or regional Beaujolais Cru (also made with Gamay) is the quintessential autumnal pairing… on paper. That said, coffee or bourbon might win the taste-off. Wait, do they have “taste-offs” yet? Hey Food Network, I have a pitch!
Pear-Cranberry Pie and Moscato d’Asti
Why is pear-cranberry pie not more popular over the holidays? Who do we need to talk to to make this a thing? Anyway, for this awesome, under loved fall pie, grab a glass of Moscato d’Asti. This isn’t just any old Moscato, it’s the Original Gangsta Moscato all the way in from Piedmont, Italy. The wine is bursting with stone fruit and Asian pear flavors, and is shockingly low-alcohol (only 5.5% ABV!). Let’s make this a thing, shall we?
Sweet Potato Pie and Alsatian-Style Pinot Gris
More textured and airy than the ubiquitous pumpkin pie equivalent, this Southern holiday staple requires something a little different. Alsatian-style Pinot Gris is richer and sweeter than the other two styles of Pinot Gris/Grigio and it gives this vegetal pie the right dollop of honeycomb, sweetness, peach, and almond to wash it down right.
Classic Cheesecake and Riesling Ice Wine
Ah, ice wine. One of nature’s sweetest mistakes. Just the thing for everyone’s favorite custard: the classic cheesecake. Sure, you could top your cheesecake off the chart with fresh fruit. But why do that when you could drink your fruit in a glass?
Chocolate Cheesecake and Recioto della Valpolicella
Recioto (“reh-chee-oh-toe”) features the same grapes as Amarone and uses the same process. Fermentation is halted before completion to leave residual sugar in the wine. The result? A surprisingly tannic sweet red wine that drinks like liquid chocolate cherries. Honestly, you may not even need dessert with wine this good…
Good luck with that hangover. Also, if you’ve tasted a dessert and wine pairing that’s to die for, we’re ready to leave this mortal coil. Tell us about it in the comments to below!
A compound present in red wine and dark chocolate could help slow down the degenerative effects of ageing, scientists suggest.
Researchers say they have found a way to make “inactive senescent” cells look and behave like younger cells by using reversatrol analogues – a chemical found in wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries.
When applied to cells cultured in the lab, a class of genes known as splicing factors – which progressively stop working as we age – were switched back on.
Scientists observed that within hours, the older cells started to divide and had longer telomeres – tips of chromosomes (genetic material of an organism) which shorten as people age – showing signs of rejuvenation.
Study author Dr Eva Latorre, research associate at the University of Exeter, said: “When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic.
“I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research.”
As people get older they accumulate senescent cells which are alive but do not grow or function as they should and lose the ability to correctly regulate the output of certain genes – like the splicing factors.
The splicing factors play a key role in ensuring other genes can perform their full range of functions – such as making the decision whether or not to grow new blood vessels.
The splicing factors tend to work less efficiently as people age, restricting the ability of cells to respond – which can lead to age-related diseases such as stroke and heart problems.
The researchers believe their findings have the potential to lead to therapies which could help people age better, without experiencing some of the age-related degenerative effects.
Study leader professor Lorna Harries, professor of molecular genetics at the University of Exeter, said: “This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life.
“Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back on the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells.”
The findings are published in BMC Cell Biology.
- 200 ml γάλα
- 50 γρ. σοκολάτα κουβερτούρα
- 50 ml Samos Nectar
- 1 κουτ. γλυκού μείγμα μπαχαρικών (κανέλα, γαρίφαλο, αστεροειδή γλυκάνισο, μοσχοκάρυδο, ροζ πιπέρι)
Ρίχνουμε σε μεγάλο μπολ τη σοκολάτα σπασμένη σε μικρά κομματάκια μαζί με την κανέλα, το γαρίφαλο, το μοσχοκάρυδο, το γλυκάνισο και το ροζ πιπέρι. Βάζουμε το γάλα σε κατσαρολίτσα να πάρει μία βράση. Αποσύρουμε αμέσως το σκεύος από τη φωτιά και ρίχνουμε μέσα τo Samos Nectar. Προσθέτουμε το ζεστό μείγμα γάλακτος και σαμιώτικου κρασιού στο μπολ με τη σοκολάτα και τα μπαχαρικά, και ανακατεύουμε καλά μέχρι να λιώσουν εντελώς. Εναλλακτικά, χτυπάμε το ρόφημα με το εξάρτημα του φραπέ μέχρι να σχηματιστεί αφρόγαλα. Σερβίρουμε σε κούπα.