There’s something about chocolate that gives us all the feels. If it’s not the smooth, velvety texture that envelops us like a warm hug, it’s for sure the rich, luscious flavor that hits all the taste buds, right? Wrong. For the sake of this piece, chocolate is all about being the BFF to the grape. In our case, wine, and lots of it.
Having dedicated his life to chocolate, Floridian chocolatier Norman Love knows a thing or two about cocoa confections.
“Chocolate makes people happy. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like chocolate,” says Love, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his business, Norman Love Confections. When paired with wine, geographically, the cacao bean and grape couldn’t be more different.
“These are two fruits grown in different hemispheres; twenty degrees north and south of the equator for cacao, while wine grows in cooler climates with warmer sun,” says Love of the geographical locations that heavily influence the underlying flavor profiles, as does mother nature (rainfall, elevation, soil).
Similar to wine tasting, enjoying chocolate also invokes the senses. “When you taste chocolate, chew and use your tongue to circulate all of the chocolate to the four senses of your tongue. You can pinch your nose, open your mouth, and breathe in and taste the complexity,” says Love. “We identify flavor profiles of chocolate and marry it with a flavor we’re trying to achieve. For example, for our dark chocolate raspberry, we use a chocolate that has a lot of acids with fruit tones that are used to complement the chocolate.”
While dark chocolates are perhaps the easiest to pair with wine, that doesn’t mean that other chocolate flavors can’t come to the party. For example, Love’s strawberry confection is sweet and fruity and paired best with an Italian rosé like a Frizzante.
“The creaminess of the chocolate blends well with the acidity of strawberries, and it marries well with the wine,” says Love.
For the dark chocolate connoisseur, Love recommends pairing a classic truffle with a Bordeaux, Cava, or Sangiovese (a nice Port wine also works here). Find us a more indulgent pairing. We’ll wait.
Love’s favorite chocolate is the salted caramel piece. Made in an old-school copper kettle, the shell is a creamy and smooth French milk chocolate, which Love says is trickier to pair, but he has often coupled milk chocolate with Pinot Noir.
“A Moscato, ice wine, or even a Riesling would go well with a very bold dark chocolate, more than 75 percent,” says Love, who adds that a sweeter wine also goes well with white chocolate.
Don’t sleep on the brand’s yuzu, mango panna cotta, or key lime chocolate, all of which offer a burst of flavor and bring out the fruity notes of lighter wines.