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Trying Dry Red Wines With Chocolate

Trying Dry Red Wines With Chocolate

Bill Daley | Chicago Tribune

When my daughter was small, the moms took the kids trick-or-treating. We fathers stayed home and doled out the candy. Utterly boring – until I discovered by mistake how well a Dewar’s on the rocks went with some Hershey’s Kisses or a mini-Mr. Goodbar or a bag of peanut M&M’s. The pairing of Scotch and chocolate went so well I always made sure to have my own private stash of both hidden away. I was set through All Souls’ Day.

The match did get me thinking: If Scotch can go with chocolate, why not wine? And not just the sweet wines such as port, Madeira or orange muscat, but regular, dry wine. You know, that half-bottle of red left when the dinner plates are taken away.

Interestingly, given its rep as a food fighter, cabernet sauvignon is the first choice of many experts in pairing wine with chocolate. Maybe it’s because both can be as heavy as prize fighters dukin’ it out.

“Tannins in the chocolate and the wine work best when they’re well-matched,” said Ziggy Eschliman, the Sonoma Valley-based “Wine Gal” of television and radio and self-styled “sommelier to rock stars.”

“A big cab, malbec, petit verdot or Bordeaux blend that has well-integrated tannins or has an influence of oak seems to be a good mix with dark chocolate,” she said. “A sexy syrah/shiraz does work well with dark chocolate too.”

Eschliman said the velvety quality found in many merlots makes this red a good candidate for milk chocolate.

“Take a Milky Way with a merlot that has seen some nice oak, and you get a little cocoa and caramel in the wine and the chocolate,” she added.

In his book “Perfect Pairings,” master sommelier Evan Goldstein warns readers to steer clear of fruit-forward wines such as riesling and Sauternes. “Incorporating some fruit with the chocolate can help, but it’s still tough on the wine and usually flattens it,” he writes.