The best booze and chocolate pairings

World Chocolate Day is a perfect excuse to indulge in some delicious chocolate combos, with an adult drink of course. Whether you’re a coffee lover, red wine drinker or you enjoy the kick of a smooth whisky, there’s a chocolate to go with every bev of choice. When paired artfully, it can be devilishly pleasurable experience. 

Finding the perfect pair might be a trial-and-error process, and you can experiment with different types of chocolate and different types of drinks. The basic rule for the perfect chocolate/booze pairing is: balance the flavours. For example, if you’re having strong bitter chocolate, a sweeter wine or spirit might be the perfect accompaniment. Here are a few tips to help you find your perfect combo.

Four things to know when looking for the perfect choco and alcohol combination

1 Contrast is important. 

Choosing a bitter drink balances well with a sweeter chocolate.  

2 Choose high-quality alcohol and chocolate. 

If you skim on quality, you compromise flavour. 

3 Looking for a disruptive combination? 

Try a strong drink and dark chocolate. 

4 Give yourself time to savour the flavours and aromas. 

Drink and think about what chocolate would complement those flavours. Sometimes paying close attention to your taste buds is the only thing you need to find the perfect match. 

Ultimately, whatever tastes good to you counts as a good pairing, but it’s also great to have a few starting points. Here are a few pairing ideas for you to try out.

Wine 

Chocolate and wine both offer intense complexity in flavours. The key to pairing wine and chocolate is to identify which flavour profile of the wine you like. As a general rule of thumb, white wines are better paired with lighter chocolate, such as milk chocolate. Red wine is best paired with darker chocolates. It’s important also to take into consideration the accompanying flavour the chocolate has: is it fruity, rich or spicy? Once identified, the chocolate can be used to complement the tasting notes of the wine. 

“Wine and chocolate tasting is a unique flavour experience,” says the founder of Dry Dock Liquor, Jonah Naidoo. He adds, “Kevin Arnold together with chocolatier Richard von Geusau have created a series of dark milk chocolates that when paired with our shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and natural sweet wine results in a flavour sensation unlike any other.”

Shiraz

A fruity strong shiraz works best with cocoa chocolate. Bittersweet chocolates are strong in flavour and low in sugar, which allows them to mellow out the tannins in a bold, red wine. 

Whisky 

Milk chocolate pairs well with a light, floral and fruity whisky. If your whisky style is dark and rich, dark chocolate with a hint of dry fruits might go down smoothly. And if you want something to startle your taste buds, try a maritime and complex whisky with salted caramel chocolate. Just like chocolate, whisky has a multitude of different varieties and flavours. “Dalmore 15-year-old is an award-winning whisky finished with a combination of sherry casks, including Amoroso and Matusalem Oloroso. It pairs perfectly with dark chocolate,” says Leroy Chiponda, the merchandiser at Dry Dock in Parkhurst, Joburg. 

Gin

Without a doubt, the easiest chocolate pairing for most gins is white chocolate. When paired with the right chocolate, Gin can take on a dazzling array of different botanical additions with different flavour hints. White chocolate can be rich, subtle, or creamy with countless flavours and textures. Not only is gin a good match for any delicate flavour, but the herbal notes of juniper can add a layer of depth to mild white chocolate. 

Stout 

This match is the easiest one. Stouts often show flavours of chocolate and coffee, so dark chocolate is ideal as it activates the sugars and bitterness of the beer. When choosing the chocolate to go with your stout, consider both contrasting and complementary flavours. Because a stout is typically bitter, it can pair well with both fruity chocolate as well as a coffee-flavoured bitter chocolate. 

Bourbon

There are often four strongest flavours in bourbon: that is caramel, fruit, spice and tannins. The trick is to decide which one you want to bring out with the chocolate and pick your chocolate accordingly. The alcohol in bourbon enhances the aromatic molecules in the chocolate, and the fat in chocolate tempers the strong alcohol. If you would rather play it safe, you might want to choose high cocoa content chocolate as the velvet smoky characteristic of most bourbons tends to blend well with this chocolate flavour. 

Coffee 

If alcohol is not your thing or you’re a teetotaller, a good cup of coffee is a great alternative. When paired right, this combo can make the finest chocolate taste richer and the highest quality coffee taste even better. 

Dark roasted coffees taste exceptionally good with dark chocolates while coffees with strong fruit and floral tones go better with light and milky chocolates. Coffees with gentle, bright, delicate fruit and floral notes are easily overpowered so it’s always better to pair them with lighter, sweeter chocolates that complement the coffee’s natural flavours without overpowering them.If you’re looking to pamper your palate, Dry Dock is hosting its own paradoxical wine and chocolate pairing. Velvety smooth chocolate for optimal mouthfeel, and sensuous flavour profiling to offer you four fabulous matches. Irresistible? For sure! Click here for more information.

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Dimpho Masopha
Dimpho Masopha is a copywriter with six years of business to brand, and business to business copywriting experience. Dimpho aims to be one of the industry’s best editorial strategists.

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