What's the Deal with Wine and Chocolate?
We had a wine and chocolate food pairing at Morgan Ridge recently and it got us down a deep research rabbit hole into wine and chocolate. There are such mixed emotions on this idea! Who knew two lovely things like chocolate and wine could elicit such negativity. Some wine experts claim that wine and chocolate aren't the best pairings, and scientifically speaking, they are probably right. But lets be honest the general public really really loves wine and chocolate. When you go to a tasting and you get a piece of chocolate, if you are like us you do a happy dance. We think wine and chocolate are both meant to make you happy, so who cares if you enjoy them together or not? This is a judgment free zone.
Regardless of how you feel about having chocolate and wine together, they have a lot in common that we had no idea.
- Cocoa beans and grapes are both fermented! Yes you heard that right, the act of converting sugar to alcohol in grapes also occurs with cocoa beans. It is a very different process, but cocoa beans are fermented once they are harvested and before they are dried to later become chocolate. The beans are removed from the pod and microorganisms facilitate the fermentation of the pulp around the bean. The fermentation of the cocoa bean moves beyond alcohol and produces acetic acid - which, while good in the cocoa bean is bad in wine.
- Chocolate and wine have tannins! A tannin is an astringent, bitter-tasting, organic molecule that exists in plant tissues, barks, and many other things. This compound exists in the skins and seeds of grapes and it also exists in cocoa beans. The darker the chocolate the more tannins there are. While we love tannins in red wine, chocolatiers usually work to remove tannin in cocoa beans (done by the fermentation process). We want our chocolate sweet, not bitter!
- Both wine and chocolate are considered aphrodisiacs (bow chica wow wow). The ethanol in wine stimulates the hypothalamus (the early brain) that controls many things, including your sex drive. *Disclaimer: the amount of wine you drink has no affect, more is not better in this case.* The claim on chocolate is a little more spotty, but hey Cosmo says it is - and we all know we learned about the sex drive from Cosmo.
- And lastly, both wine and chocolate are good for you! Yes, they contain antioxidants. This is why they are some of the best things on earth (from our research). Resveratrol is the antioxidant found in wine and chocolate (and other things like peanuts). Wine and chocolate, in moderation, is healthy. And I'll let you know in 40 years how that worked out for us.
If you really really love chocolate and you really really love wine and you want to have them together - be our guest! But in all seriousness if we had to pick the perfect wine to drink with your chocolate we would recommend a sweeter wine, like a port. Yummy - a true dessert.
Cheers to your wine and chocolate!